The UCLA Stroke Center at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center will be part of a new stroke-certified hospital system that has the potential to greatly improve response times, treatments and overall outcomes for those who suffer a stroke in Los Angeles County.
The new Primary Stroke Center system, announced by the American Heart Association's American Stroke Association (ASA), involves the county's Emergency Medical Services agency and nine participating hospitals certified as primary stroke centers. The program launches Nov. 16.
The result of cooperative work between hospitals and other stakeholders — including the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, EMS and the ASA — the program includes a policy that provides for the transport of select 911 stroke patients to a primary stroke center, rather than to the nearest hospital, in order to optimize care and minimize disability or death.
"We are very proud to be launching this regional system of organized pre-hospital care and designated Primary Stroke Center hospitals in Los Angeles County," said Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of the UCLA Stroke Center and one of the lead physicians working on the project. "This launch is a great first step toward our objective of ensuring that anyone in Los Angeles who suffers a stroke will have quick access to brain-saving, standard-of-care treatment."
Plans call for the approval of additional hospitals in Los Angeles County over the next one to two years to ensure that anyone suffering stroke symptoms can call 911 and expect there will be a stroke-certified hospital nearby.
"Stroke centers provide a continuum of care, from initial assessment through hospitalization and rehabilitation," said Dr. William Koenig, medical director of Los Angeles County EMS. "Providing a focused approach, with dedicated stroke nursing and hospital beds, benefits stroke patients. Through this collaboration, we anticipate the network of primary stroke centers will grow throughout the county in the months to come."
Stroke, the third leading cause of death in Los Angeles County, is the result of either a bleed (hemorrhagic) or a clot (ischemic) in the brain that damages brain tissue. Because stroke injury worsens with each passing second, early identification and rapid treatment is critical to minimizing morbidity and mortality.
Studies have shown that outcomes improve significantly if patients activate the EMS system early, by calling 911. However, while time to treatment is a critical factor, the type of treatment received is also crucial, which is why it is important to get patients to a primary stroke center. The UCLA Stroke Center was the first hospital in the county to earn certification as a primary stroke center from the Joint Commission.
In addition to the UCLA Stroke Center, the following facilities have been designated as approved stroke centers: Cedars–Sinai Medical Center, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center–San Pedro, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Los Alamitos Medical Center in Orange County.
"The launch of the network is a proud day for the American Stroke Association in Los Angeles County," said David Ross, immediate past chairman of the ASA's Los Angeles County board of directors. "We are thrilled to bring together so many talented and committed people on behalf of so many different organizations for the shared objective of stopping strokes. We are grateful to the Annenberg Foundation for providing financial support as we work to create the first county-wide system of care for stroke in Los Angeles."
Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can help save lives. Call 911 immediately if you experience, or observe in someone else, one or more of the following signs: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden, severe headache with no known cause. Visit www.strokeassociation.org for more information.
The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is working hard in local communities throughout America to prevent, treat and defeat stroke through research, public and professional education programs, and improved emergency care. Stroke is America's No. 3 killer and devastates hundreds of thousands of individuals and families every year. In Los Angeles County and across the country, the American Stroke Association is working with hospitals through its Get With the Guidelines–Stroke program to ensure that stroke treatment meets standards of care that help minimize death and disability.
The UCLA Stroke Center, recognized as one of the world's leading centers for the management of cerebral vascular disease, treats simple and complex vascular disorders by incorporating recent developments in emergency medicine, stroke neurology, microneurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, stereotactic radiology, neurointensive care, neuroanesthesiology and rehabilitation neurology. The program is unique in its ability to integrate clinical and research activities across multiple disciplines and departments. A center without walls, the UCLA Stroke Center was founded in 1994.