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Augusta Health earns Primary Stroke Center Certification

  
Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

It’s not that you know that you’re having a stroke, and tell the nurse, Hey, I’m having a stroke!

You only went to the hospital because somebody insisted. We all want to feel like we’re tough. It’s probably just a headache.

The staff at Augusta Health is trained to recognize when what you might think is just a bad headache might be something a lot more serious.

“The hospital is busy, and the nurses are busy. They need to be able to find a way to interact with patients on a very systematic basis. Everybody is trained and on a high alert to do that. We all have worked in conjunction with each other, with representation from all areas of the hospital on our interdisciplinary team, to ensure that that occurs,” said Gina Campbell, the director of the intensive care unit at Augusta Health in Fishersville, which on Monday announced that it has been awarded Primary Stroke Center Certification status by The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers.

The designation came after a Joint Commission reviewer conducted an unannounced on-site visit in December and determined based on the review guidelines that Augusta Health stroke-care program follows national standards that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients.

Augusta Health handles on average 30 stroke and transient ischemic attack patients a month. Most begin their treatment through the emergency department, which handles around 5,000 patients a month, putting in perspective the needle-in-a-haystack issue confronting primary-care providers in identifying stroke and TIA cases and beginning treatments.

“The more time we have, the more we are likely to employ some of these techniques and ideas,” said Dr. Robert McMahon, a neurologist and the medical director of the Stroke Program at Augusta Health.

The effort that led to the Joint Commission certification has been ongoing for several years.

“We’ve always thought, I think I can speak for myself and my group, that we’ve had good, qualty stroke care here at Augusta Health. But we realized that there some areas for improvement, in some cases some significant areas for improvement,” McMahon said.

Augusta Health focused its attention in the stroke-care area, Mahon said, on three areas – facilitating communication and coordination between the various departments that deal with stroke care, developing and maintaining consistency in deploying recognized stroke-care standards, and building a process for measuring outcomes and implementing changes based on what is learned through the measurement process.

“We believe that the patients we serve can have confidence that we do continue to evaluate our performance and strive to improve the quality of care that we provide,” McMahon said.


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