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October 7, 2011 > Stroke Program Awarded Prestigious Certification Third Time in a Row

Stroke Program Awarded Prestigious Certification Third Time in a Row

Making Improvements Each Step of the Way

Hard work and dedication are typically the cornerstones of any achievement, but maintaining that achievement over time can be an even greater marker of success. And this is exactly what Washington Hospitals' Stroke Program has done.

Washington Hospital - for the third time in a row - has been awarded the Gold Seal of Approval(tm) from The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for Primary Stroke Centers based upon a review process that takes place every two years.

"Receiving this award from JCAHO is simply one more way we have demonstrated that our stroke program is among the top in the nation," says Stroke Program Medical Director Ash Jain, M.D. "We are an American Heart Association (AHA) Certified Primary Stroke Center and our program has been designated as among the top 15 percent of leading stroke programs in the United States."

Each year, according to JCAHO, more than 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which represents the country's third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone else dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes.

According to the National Stroke Association, as many as 6 million stroke survivors are living in the United States today, many of them with stroke-related disabilities ranging from mildly incapacitating to sometimes requiring that they must remain in long-term care facilities for daily care.

"Our program has consistently been awarded excellence ratings from nationally recognized organizations including the American Heart Association and HealthGrades," Dr. Jain says. "Patients who come to Washington Hospital for treatment of stroke should know that they are receiving care from a highly awarded facility."

JCAHO's certification means that patients in the Tri-City area have access to care that has been planned from the moment emergency medical services respond to after they leave the hospital and begin the recovery process.

According to Washington Hospital's Stroke Program Coordinator Doug Van Houten, R.N., it's important to note that JCAHO certification is not mandatory in order for a hospital to have a stroke program.

However, he points out that if a hospital operates a quality program, then logically it should be able to achieve certification, which shows the community that the program has met certain standards.

Washington Hospital was the 34th hospital in California to receive the JCAHO Gold Seal of Approval in 2007. Now, every two years the program is reviewed to ensure it is still meeting or exceeding standards.

"JCAHO wants to know that high standards for care are being maintained and that your data looks good and excellence in care is still in place," Van Houten says. "It requires a lot of effort, but certification is a worthwhile process and we should continue to apply for and acquire performance awards. The public has a right to know that they're receiving medical care from a credible facility, which is focused on delivering quality care to patients."

To make a larger impact in the community, Van Houten says his plan is to increase the program's prevention efforts and reduce the overall number of strokes in the community.

Covering all the bases for better care

Given that stroke can have such dire long-term effects on its potential victims, Washington Hospital has mobilized its entire staff, as well as local emergency responders, such as firefighters and paramedics, through educational programs and specific protocols to follow when it comes to stroke as a way to maximize outcomes and minimize stroke-related deaths and disability.

To maintain its status as a Primary Stroke Center, Washington Hospital has to meet strict requirements set down by JCAHO, which include:
* Building specialized stroke care units staffed by specially trained stroke nurses
* Employing special order sets and making sure standard protocols were in place
* Training for every employee involved in stroke care, from radiology to lab work
* Developing a program for a comprehensive Community Education Series focusing on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and life after stroke
* Launching a stroke support group following patients recovery from stroke
* Providing special neuroscience education to hospital staff, local emergency medical services personnel and students focusing on stroke

To learn more about the Stroke Program at Washington Hospital, visit, click on "Services" and select "Stroke Program" from the list.

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