Ascension Seton Hays’ Stroke Care Earns AHA Honor

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Time is critical when treating a stroke patient. Ideally, a person is treated within 60 minutes of the event.

Based on fast response times and other important compliance requirements, Ascension Seton Medical Center Hays has earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Quality Award.

At large, urban hospitals, stroke experts tend to be available on site. But in outlying areas with smaller hospitals, that’s not always the case.

A new trend in diagnosing and treating strokes uses telemedicine. “Telestroke assessments” are conducted by stroke experts who can see and interact with a patient remotely, and subsequently can provide an informed decision on treating a patient or transferring that person to another hospital. Doctors do this through a digital video camera, a laptop or tablet computer and an internet connection. Ascension Seton Hays started using this technology this past summer.

“Telemedicine technology is a significant, contributing factor to Ascension Seton receiving this acknowledgement from the American Heart/American Stroke Association,” said Dr. Johanna Morton, a vascular neurologist with Ascension Seton Brain and Spine Institute. “If I can’t be at the hospital, I’m able to assess a patient with my own eyes from home at any time of the day, which is significant because I live 25 miles away from Ascension Seton Hays.”

Ascension Seton Hays received the Get With The Guidelines Gold Achievement Award because for 24 consecutive months the stroke team reached an aggressive goal of treating stroke patients with 85 percent or higher compliance to core standard levels of care in seven categories, as outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The ‘Plus’ level indicates the hospital also scored 75 percent or higher in five or more metrics measuring quality.

Ascension Seton Hays made the “Target: Stroke Honor Roll” for sustaining a “time to thrombolytic therapy” (from arrival at the hospital to when medication is administered) of less than 60 minutes at least 50 percent of the time. Thrombolytic therapy helps dissolve dangerous blood clots which cause strokes. Morton noted the time frame includes numerous evaluations and tests necessary to learn precisely how each patient is impacted by a stroke – and precisely how best to medicate each patient.

“Everyone from the physicians to the nurses to the first responders are dedicated to helping our patients achieve the best possible outcomes,” Neal Kelley, Ascension Seton Hays vice president and chief operating officer, said. “Implementing the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s ‘Get With the Guidelines’ program will help us accomplish that by making it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis.”