Wyoming Medical Center earns American Stroke Association’s highest honor for stroke care

By Kristy Bleizeffer Jun 21, 2018

Wyoming Medical Center's Stroke Steering Committee is made of representatives from many hospital departments including the ER, paramedics, interventional radiology, laboratory, and many more.

For the fourth straight year, Wyoming Medical Center has won the American Stroke Association’s highest level of recognition for quick, expert treatment of stroke patients.

We earned the Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll award along with the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. These awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

It is the 10th year in a row we have been recognized by the American Stroke Association. 

“Get With The Guidelines® was born and bred by physicians who understand what it means to deliver excellence in care. The information we gathered allowed us to look critically at our program and make good decisions about how we can do things better. The changes have been amazing,” said David B. Wheeler, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.N., director of Wyoming Medical Center’s Primary Stroke Center and a neurologist at Wyoming Neurologic Associates.

The American Heart/Stroke Association presents our 2018 Target Stroke certificate. From left, Michele Chulick, CEO; Dr. Carol Solie, Chief Medical Officer; Dr. David Wheeler; Kristen Waters (AHA): and Melody Bowar, WMC stroke coordinator.

“Target Stroke was developed in order to encourage hospitals to really start looking at how we could treat people more quickly. As it turns out, the hardest part about setting up a system of care is making it go quickly because every single case presents its own unique set of problems. Target Stroke gave us the incentive to bulldoze through all those barriers,” Wheeler said.

Wyoming Medical Center earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions

The Elite Plus status is given to hospitals that:

  • Demonstrate a door-to-needle time within 60 minutes in 75 percent or more of acute ischemic stroke patients AND
  • Demonstrate a door-to-needle time within 45 minutes in 50 percent of acute ischemic stroke patients.

Door-to-needle time is the time from when a patient arrives at the ER to the time the clot buster tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) is administered intravenously. Wyoming Medical Center administers tPA to most patients within 45 minutes, and often in as little as 20 to 30 minutes.

If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

“Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates," said Eric E. Smith, M.D., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and an associate professor of neurology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. 

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. It is caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain, and the longer it takes to clear the clot, the greater chance for brain damage. Stroke patients have a 3- to 4 1/2-hour window from onset of symptoms to receive tPA, and Get With the Guidelines sets a target of door-to-needle time of 60 minutes or less.

Wyoming Medical Center’s Primary Stroke Center is Wyoming’s first center certified by the Joint Commission. Our stroke team is made up of members from nearly every department in the hospital including EMS, ER nurses and physicians, radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, ICU, neurology, therapies, case managers and more. The team meets monthly to analyze the latest data, collaborate on best care practices and troubleshoot areas that need improvement.

About Get With The Guidelines®

Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with tools and resources to increase adherence to the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 6 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit heart.org.

David B. Wheeler MD, PhD, FAAN, FAES, FAHA

David B. Wheeler, MD, PhD, FAAN, FAES is board certified in neurology, clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy. He is a Rhodes Scholar and was the 2010 Wyoming Medical Center Physician of the Year. He serves on the boards for Wyoming Medical Center, Wyoming Dementia Care and the American Heart Association (Southwest Affiliate.) He practices at Wyoming Neurologic Associates, 2546 E. Second St., #600 in Casper. For a referral or an appointment, call  (855) 39-BRAIN.