Longview Regional Medical Center (LRMC) has furthered its reputation for excellence by earning the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Evidence-based guidelines pointed to LRMC as a facility whose care for cardiac and stroke patients scored 85 (or higher) for two or more six-month intervals while making a 75 or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which count as reporting initiatives to measure quality of care.

Included in these measures are aggressive uses of such medications as antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing and smoking cessation–all of which seek to achieve reducing death and disability rates while improving stroke victims’ quality of life.

LRMC also received the association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll for raising the level of its stroke care. During the past quarter over half of the hospital’s eligible ischemic stroke patients were treated with the tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within one hour of arriving at the facility. This is an excellent “door-to-needle” time. The thrombolytic (clot-busting) agent tPA is the only ischemic stroke-treatment drug approved by the American Food and Drug Administration.

If administered intravenously within three hours of commencement of stroke symptoms, tPA consistently reverses stroke effects and decreases permanent disability. LRMC Chief Executive Officer Jim Kendrick expressed his hospital’s dedication to continuing healing stroke patients.

“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the Get With the Guidelines–Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award demonstrates Longview Regional’s commitment to being one of the top hospitals in the country for providing aggressive, proven stroke care,” he said. “We will continue with our focus on providing care that has been shown in the scientific literature to quickly and efficiently treat stroke patients with evidence-based protocols.”

Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, MD is chair of the Get With the Guidelines National Steering Committee, and is director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Even with these lofty credentials he is highly impressed with LRMC’s achievements.

“Longview Regional is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients,” he said. “The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients.”

The initiative utilizes what it calls the “teachable moment.” This is the period immediately after someone has suffered a stroke–when he is still able to listen and follow healthcare professionals’ instructions.

Research indicates patients who, while hospitalized, received training on how to manage their risk factors have a lesser incidence of additional strokes or heart attacks. Patients receive the Guidelines in writing upon discharge from the hospital. These instructions are written in simplified, easy-to-understand terms and are in English and Spanish.

Furthermore, the Get With the Guidelines Patient Management Tool provides healthcare providers with the latest cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.

“The time is right for Longview Regional to be focused on improving the quality of stroke care by implementing Get With the Guidelines–Stroke,” said LRMC Chief Nursing Officer Stephanie Foster. “The number of ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large, aging population.”

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association reports stroke is one of this country’s leading causes of death and severe, long-term disability annually. An American suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, one dies of a stroke every four minutes, and 795,000 suffer a first-time or recurrent stroke yearly.

By Kelly Bell