Jefferson Regional Designated Primary Stroke Center
The Joint Commission certified Jefferson Regional Medical Center as a Primary Stroke Center — this prestigious distinction recognizes Jefferson Regional’s team of medical professionals for its efforts in achieving exceptional outcomes for stroke care patients.
Louise Urban, senior vice president patient care services and chief nursing officer, said the Joint Commission’s Certificate of Distinction for Advanced Certification as a Primary Stroke Center "recognizes that we meet the national standards, clinical guidelines and outcomes of care; most importantly, we are improving the quality of life for our patients. The community can feel confident that when stroke care is needed, Jefferson Regional provides effective, timely care and significantly improved outcomes for stroke patients.”
Emergency Medicine physician Richard Sullivan, MD, knows that every minute counts when first responders rush a patient by ambulance to Jefferson Regional with symptoms of a stroke.
“Time is everything when dealing with a stroke,” said Dr. Sullivan. “At Jefferson Regional, we can have the patient fully diagnosed within 30 minutes of arrival by using our state-of-the-art CT scanners. Treatment begins moments after diagnosis in order to save brain tissue.”
Emergency Care and Stroke Telemedicine
Jefferson Regional Medical Center maintains a vital partnership with area EMS personnel. Even before a patient reaches Jefferson Regional via ambulance, well-trained first responders conduct a pre-hospital assessment and management of the patient in the field.
“The first responders notify us before arrival that they are bringing in a potential stroke patient,” said Dr. Sullivan. “At our hospital, we issue a ‘neuro-alert’ page so that a team of physicians, nurses and CT techs are prepared to rapidly diagnose and treat the patient.”
Our Stroke Telemedicine program enables emergency physicians to access the expertise of specialists during the critical first few hours following a stroke. When patients are brought to the Emergency Department at Jefferson Regional, their prognosis for recovery is much improved if doctors can intervene promptly – within three hours – to provide treatment and minimize damage to the brain.
Through videoconferencing technology, Jefferson emergency physicians link with experts at UPMC Stroke Institute who can see and speak with the patient, ask questions and view CT scans all in real-time. The physicians and specialists can assess the patient's condition and determine if they are a candidate for acute stroke therapy.
Inpatient Stroke and Rehabilitation Care
Once a stroke diagnosis has been made, a patient is taken from the Emergency Department to the Stroke Care Unit, a 14-bed unit dedicated to specialized care and treatment for acute stroke patients. A multidisciplinary team trained in stroke care is led by two groups of experienced neurologists: Western PA Neurology and Associates in Neurology of Pittsburgh.
In the Stroke Unit, patients undergo diagnostic tests, such as echocardiogram, carotid Doppler, brain MRI and other neurological assessments, in order to receive an individualized stroke care plan that reflects the nature of the stroke. Kim Finnerty, director, patient care specialty services, who oversees the stroke and rehab units, said that every stroke patient is different, but the average length of stay in the Stroke Unit is 3½ days. The patient then may be transferred to the hospital’s 20-bed Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit for continued rehabilitation.
“Admission to the Rehab Unit allows stroke patients the opportunity to remain at Jefferson Regional and have their care managed by the same physicians as they progress through their recovery,” Finnerty said. “The continuum of care is important as patients participate in various therapeutic activities, including physical, speech and occupational therapies, which will assist them with regaining their independence.”