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Merit Health Natchez Awarded Advanced Certification for Acute Stroke Ready Hospital
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 6, 2019 -

Press Release from Merit Health
Merit Health Natchez is proud to announce it has earned Advanced Disease-Specific Care Certification for Acute Stroke Ready Hospital from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The certification recognizes hospitals equipped to treat stroke patients with timely, evidence-based care prior to transferring them to a Primary or Comprehensive Stroke Center.
Merit Health Natchez underwent a rigorous onsite review in December 2018 to assess its compliance with the Joint Commission’s Advanced Disease-Specific Care certification requirements, including:
• A dedicated stroke-focused program
• Staffing by qualified medical professionals trained in stroke care
• Collaboration with local emergency management agencies
• 24/7 ability to perform rapid diagnostic and laboratory testing
• Ability to administer intravenous clot-busting medications to eligible patients
• Availability of telemedicine technology
“Currently, nearly half of the population in the United States live 60 miles or more away from a Primary Stroke Center or Comprehensive Stroke Center,” said Lee H. Schwamm, MD, American Stroke Association. “If patients who experience an acute ischemic stroke can get treated with clot-busting medications quickly, more lives would be saved and more patients would have improved outcomes.”
“This new certification acts as important bridge and will be a key component in an evolving system of stroke care,” said Patrick Phelan, executive director, Hospital Business Development, The Joint Commission. “A Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association certified Acute Stroke Ready Hospital will be the foundation for acute stroke care in many communities, allowing it to be the first stop on a patient’s acute stroke journey.”
“We are delighted to receive this advanced stroke certification which acknowledges Merit Health Natchez’s readiness to evaluate, stabilize and provide life-saving emergency care to patients who come to us with acute stroke symptoms,” said Lance Boyd, CEO of Merit Health Natchez. “This certification demonstrates our commitment to providing a higher standard of service to stroke patients, while also addressing the gap in access to acute stroke services. Our Stroke Team, under the leadership of Tammy Cranford, Chief Quality Officer, Dr. Rick Ricalde, Neurologist, Brenda Vines, Stroke Team Coordinator and our Emergency Department staff and physicians, did a phenomenal job in preparing our hospital for this survey, and their efforts have equipped us to evaluate, stabilize and provide life-saving emergency care to patients who come to us with acute stroke symptoms.” 
Tammy Cranford, Chief Quality Officer, credits Brenda Vines, Stroke Coordinator, as well as Arnie Perkins and Lynn Wooten, our Trauma/Chest Pain Coordinator and Trauma Registrar for their leadership. “This team began the certification process nearly two years ago and kept our team informed on all the appropriate and necessary steps and actions needed to have this successful certification,” said Cranford.
Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. According to The Mississippi State Department of Health, Stroke is one of the top five causes of death in Mississippi, claiming about 1,500 Mississippians each year.
Dr. Rick Ricalde, Neurologist and Medical Director of our Stroke Program, is not surprised at these statistics. “A stroke is an attack on the brain, and the saying, time lost is brain lost, rings true. We hope this level of proven, evidence based competency and our ability to confirm a stroke diagnosis and start treatment with clot-busting medication in under an hour, will bring confidence and peace of mind to our community,” concluded Ricalde.
Established in 2015, Acute Stroke Ready Hospital Certification is awarded for a two-year period to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals. The certification was derived from the Brain Attack Coalition’s “Recommendations for Comprehensive Stroke Centers” (Stroke, 2005), “Metrics for Measuring Quality of Care in Comprehensive Stroke Centers” (Stroke, 2011) and recommendations from a multidisciplinary advisory panel of experts in complex stroke care. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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