The San Joaquin County Emergency Services Agency announced on Friday that six hospitals throughout the county have been designated as primary stroke centers to identify and treat stroke patients more quickly.
Adventist Health Lodi Memorial Hospital’s stroke center was able to start helping patients almost as soon as they received the designation in January, according to communications manager Lauren Nelson.
“One Lodi patient who had a stroke came to Adventist Health Lodi Memorial right away. She was treated immediately and was back to full function in five days. Without the designation, she would have had to seek treatment elsewhere and may not have had such a successful stroke recovery,” Nelson said.
Lodi Memorial’s stroke center coordinator Amanda deNu helped develop programs and policies such as working with EMS to educate communities and hospital staff that stroke-like symptoms need immediate treatment and running drills with Lodi Memorial’s staff to make sure that patients receive the same quality of care throughout their stay.
“We’re the northernmost hospital in the county, so patients in Lodi and the surrounding areas will have shorter arrival times. Plus, we offer acute physical rehabilitation, speech therapy and occupational therapy right here, so patients don’t have to leave the county,” deNu said.
Doctors Hospital Manteca, Kaiser Hospital Manteca, San Joaquin General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital also received the designation after a 10-month review process.
Before receiving the designation, the hospitals first had to be accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and demonstrate their ability to treat stroke patients during a site survey by San Joaquin EMS.
According to EMS, primary stroke centers must provide:
• Specialized equipment specific to stroke emergencies.
• A medical director with sufficient knowledge of cerebrovascular disease.
• A program manager (registered nurse with stroke program experience).
• Teleneurology consultation services.
• A clinical stroke team that responds to every stroke alert.
• Written protocol, continuing stroke education for staff, quality improvement and patient transfer arrangements with stroke centers that provide higher level of care.
Each hospital also had to pay an application fee of $25,000, according to San Joaquin EMS administrator Dan Burch, and some had to add new services such as teleneurology consultations, which allow a neurologist at one hospital to evaluate a patient at another hospital and make recommendations for their treatment.
“Not every hospital in San Joaquin County has a neurologist on staff, so the biggest advantage for the patients is rapid access to a neurologist so they can assess whether the patient needs to be treated with medicine on-site or transferred to another facility that can remove the blood clot,” Burch said.