Contact: Andrea Sellers
The Villages® Regional Hospital (TVRH) has attained advanced certification by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. This means that the hospital provides the next generation of stroke care and seeks to maintain the high standards set by The Joint Commission.
"I am extremely pleased with the excellent outcome of this survey," says Don Henderson, president and chief executive officer of Central Florida Health—parent company of The Villages® Regional Hospital. "This impressive result is due to the hard work and dedication of the many team members that commit to maintain these important standards."
The hospital underwent a rigorous onsite review in November 2016 when experts from The Joint Commission evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements, including program management, the delivery of clinical care and performance improvement.
"By achieving this benchmark, we are able to reduce inconsistencies in clinical processes and thereby improve the quality of patient care," says Mary-Beth Morris, who has served as the hospital's stroke and chest pain coordinator for the past several years and led survey readiness efforts. "In addition, the analysis of our processes by an outside organization provides objective feedback that we can use for continuous improvement."
Hospital officials began working toward the certification in 2015 by developing an emergency fast track system known as Code Stroke to respond specifically to patients who could be experiencing a stroke.
"As soon as our team gets an alert, it sets the wheels in motion to improve service time for stroke care," says Jenny Hardy, current stroke and chest pain coordinator for The Villages® Regional Hospital. "Our response team can perform neurological exams, blood tests, and computerized tomography, or CT scans and interpret them within minutes of a patient's arrival in the emergency room."
Stroke is a medical emergency as serious as a heart attack. Receiving medical attention as early as possible within the first three hours of a stroke can be the difference between life and death – a complete recovery or a lifetime of disability.
The acronym FAST is a helpful way to remember the four most obvious signs of a stroke – face, or an uneven smile; arm weakness; speech slurred; and time, calling 911 at the first sign of symptoms.
"It's so important to respond to signs of a stroke as quickly as possible. Oftentimes, people allow that person to go to sleep or become inactive when those symptoms are present, and it can be devastating," continues Hardy. "It's a narrow window. We want people to recognize the signs of a stroke and respond to those signs in a timely manner."