Stroke patients who are treated at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center receive some of the best care on the nation.

The Joint Commission has just confirmed that by certifying Providence St. Vincent as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, placing it in an elite group of medical centers nationwide focused on complex stroke care. Comprehensive Stroke Center certification recognizes hospitals that have expertly trained caregivers in all areas of advanced stroke care and a state-of-the-art facility to treat patients with the most complex strokes.

The certification comes after Providence St. Vincent underwent a rigorous onsite review by The Joint Commission in April. Joint Commission experts reviewed Providence St. Vincent’s compliance with the Comprehensive Stroke Center standards and requirements, including advanced imaging capabilities, around-the-clock availability of specialized treatments, stroke research and caregivers with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.

“We are very pleased to receive this recognition from The Joint Commission affirming our commitment to advancing stroke care in the Northwest,” said Mike Schmitt, executive of the Providence Brain and Spine Institute. “From diagnosis to treatment and recovery, Providence provides the highest level of comprehensive care at every stage of a stroke.” 

Providence Stroke Center is one of the most active stroke centers in the Northwest, caring for more than 1,400 stroke patients in Oregon in 2013 — more than any other health care system in the state. “Providence Stroke Center became the regional leader in stroke care in 2010 with the creation of Oregon’s first and largest telestroke network,” said Ted Lowenkopf, medical director of Providence Stroke Center. “Providence Telestroke Network enables us to instantly diagnose and treat stroke patients at 17 remote locations in Oregon and Washington.”

In 2013, the stroke team at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center treated 85.3 percent of eligible acute stroke patients with the clot-busting drug tPA in less than 60 minutes after they arrived in the emergency room. In other Oregon hospitals, only 56.1 percent of patients are treated in less than 60 minutes.

Rapid treatment is crucial, Lowenkopf said. Every minute that a blood clot blocks flow to the brain, two million brain cells die. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, and it’s the number one cause of disability.

Providence Stroke Center’s team includes vascular neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurointerventionalists, radiologists, emergency physicians, nurses, therapists and a large research team.

The team treats patients with severe neurological and central nervous system conditions in a 12-bed neurocritical care unit. Providence Stroke Center also provides Oregon’s most advanced neurointerventional services with highly skilled surgeons who perform complex procedures such as mechanically removing blood clots from the brains of stroke patients.

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

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