UCLA Health - Santa Monica Medical Center Achieves Certification as a Primary Stroke Center

UCLA Health article

UCLA Health - Santa Monica Medical Center has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center, a distinction that recognizes centers that follow proven best practices for stroke care.

The designation was awarded by The Joint Commission, one of the country’s leading accrediting agencies, following a successful site visit in late March. It means the hospital’s Nethercutt Emergency Center will receive suspected stroke patients brought by paramedics in the field for further diagnostic assessment and treatment.

“We are extremely proud to have earned this designation and look forward to serving our community with state-of-the-art stroke care,” said Dr. Doojin Kim, medical director of the hospital’s stroke program. “Residents, visitors and their family members can be assured of receiving timely, efficient and compassionate stroke care, based on guidelines endorsed by the American Heart & Stroke Associations.”

Pamela Nye, program coordinator for the stroke center, said the process for becoming a certified center takes months of planning and preparation by a core stroke team, supported by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists and other health professionals. Kim, Nye and Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of emergency services, comprise UCLA-Santa Monica’s core team.

The Joint Commission surveyor conducting the hospital’s March 24 site visit had an unexpected opportunity to observe the stroke team’s response in real time. Soon after the site visit began, Nye and other stroke team members were summoned by pager to two separate “code strokes” – one in the Intensive Care Unit and the other in the Nethercutt ER.

“The teams performed flawlessly,” said Nye. “The surveyor was able to view our people and protocols in real-life situations.” The surveyor later told Nye that in all her years conducting site visits, she had never been in a hospital where two codes occurred so soon after a survey started.

“Our team members knew exactly what to do and executed our protocols perfectly,” said Nye. “I was so proud.”

The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, incorporating standards set forth by the Brain Attack Coalition.

To receive certification, hospitals must have:

  • A dedicated stroke program
  • Qualified professionals trained in stroke care
  • Individualized and patient-involved stroke care
  • Coordinated post-discharge patient self-care
  • Streamlined patient information and collection of treatment performance data
  • Continual assessment and improvement in quality of care

Certification is awarded for a two-year period, but at the end of the first year, organizations must demonstrate their continued compliance with standards and to review performance-improvement activities. Additionally, certified primary centers must provide quarterly reports on eight core measures of stroke treatment.

In addition to the certification, UCLA-Santa Monica has earned the “Get with The Guidelines - Stroke Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award” from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. This award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to high-quality stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment that meets nationally accepted, evidence-based standards and recommendations.

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