UNC Hospitals Receives Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers from The Joint Commission and AHA/ASA

UNC First Hospital in North Carolina and Southeast to Earn Comprehensive Stroke Center Status

Media contacts: Jennifer James, (919) 966-7622 or jjames@unch.unc.edu

For Immediate Release: Jan.  17, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, NC — UNC Hospitals has been recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) as meeting The Joint Commission’s standards for Disease-Specific Care Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification.

UNC Hospitals is currently one of only 15 hospitals in the nation and the only hospital in the Southeast to receive the designation of a Comprehensive Stroke Center, joining an elite group of providers focused on complex stroke care that are recognized as health care leaders and are responsible for setting the national agenda in highly-specialized stroke care.

"By achieving this advanced certification, UNC Hospitals has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends UNC Hospitals for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

In September 2012, The Joint Commission, in collaboration with the AHA/ASA’s Brain Attack Coalition, launched the Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers.  UNC Hospitals underwent a rigorous onsite review in November 2012.   Joint Commission experts reviewed UNC Hospitals’ compliance with the Comprehensive Stroke Center standards and requirements including advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.  The surveyors found the hospital met or exceeded all required standards.

“The Joint Commission certification recognizes and confirms the high standard of care that UNC Hospitals provides to its stroke patients," said David Y. Huang, MD, PhD, FAHA, the Director of the UNC Health Care Comprehensive Stroke Center.  “We are honored to be the first hospital in the region, as well as one of a handful in the nation, to be recognized for our specialty care of complex stroke cases."

In complement to Primary Stroke Centers, Joint Commission-designated Comprehensive Stroke Centers, like the one now certified at UNC Hospitals, are required to have rapid-response stroke treatment teams; the operation of designated inpatient stroke care units staffed by qualified stroke caregivers; the use of comprehensive, written stroke care protocols; the existence of an integrated system for managing stroke patients; compliance with professional standards and a firm commitment from administrators as well as clinicians to provide up-to-date community education about stroke risks, symptoms, and treatment.

“The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association congratulates UNC Hospitals on its Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification,” commented Mark J. Alberts, M.D., FAHA, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association spokesperson and incoming Vice-Chair of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Comprehensive Stroke Centers offer a high level of care for patients with the most severe and challenging types of strokes and cerebrovascular disease.”

The Comprehensive Stroke Center designation demonstrates the team-based care provided by UNC doctors. In order to meet the rigorous criteria set up by the Joint Commission, doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff members must coordinate care across the Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery, Emergency Medicine, Neuroradiology, Vascular Surgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and other units. Patients presenting at UNC Hospitals with signs of a stroke receive coordinated care from the first interaction with a health care provider at UNC.

For more information on The Joint Commission and American Heart Association’s Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Center visit http://www.jointcommission.org/.

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About the UNC Health Care Comprehensive Stroke Center

The clinical home of UNC’s Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology is the UNC Health Care Comprehensive Stroke Center, a multidisciplinary program that incorporates state-of-the-art approaches in caring for patients with stroke or other cerebrovascular disorders. The Stroke Center's multidisciplinary care approach utilizes the expertise of Stroke and Neurocritical Care Neurologists and other physicians and staff with specialty training in the treatment of stroke and TIA, including emergency medicine physicians, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, cardiologists, vascular surgeons, physiatrists (rehabilitation medicine), and stroke ancillary care specialists (physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, and social workers).

Acute stroke care is provided to medically eligible patients by an on-call Acute Stroke Team.  The Stroke Team is available 24/7 and coordinates acute treatments, such as intravenous thrombolysis and interventional procedures.  The Team also screens patients for inclusion in clinical studies and trials of the latest experimental stroke therapies.  For more information visit: http://www.med.unc.edu/neurology/divisions/stroke.

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