Wyoming Medical Center earns American Stroke Association’s highest honor for stroke care — again
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 24, 2016
Wyoming Medical Center has again won the American Stroke Association’s highest level of recognition for quick, expert treatment of stroke patients.
For the second straight year, we achieved Target: Stroke Honor Roll —Elite Plus status. We also earned the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes 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 eighth 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.
“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.
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 there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program,” said Paul Heidenreich, M.D., M.S., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.
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 only 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.
Rebecca L. Renstrom of Douglas knows that every second counts when stroke strikes. After suffering a stroke at work on Sept. 29, she was rushed to Converse County Memorial Hospital where she received tPA. She was then transferred to Wyoming Medical Center where neurointerventional radiologist Charles Bowkley, III, M.D., pulled the clot from her brain. She walked out of Wyoming Medical Center 2 ½ days later with no residual side effects.
“I thought a stroke meant you are debilitated for the rest of your life – or at least it’s going to be a long road back. For me, to be able to do everything I’ve always done, it’s like a miracle,” Renstrom said. “In little old podo (podunk) Wyoming, you don’t expect care like this. When you go to the Casper hospital, they take good care of you.” Read Renstrom’s full story here.
Dr. David B. Wheeler is board certified in neurology and clinical neurophysiology. He is medical director of Wyoming Medical Center’s Primary Stroke Center and is founder of our Level III Epilepsy Center. He is the 2010 Wyoming Medical Center Physician of the Year. He serves on the boards of Wyoming Dementia Care and the Wyoming Medical Society. Dr. Wheeler is married and has two children.