North Mountain Hospital Certified as Primary Stroke Center

John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital in Phoenix has become the Valley's newest hospital certified as a Primary Stroke Center by DNV Healthcare, an international certifying agency approved by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For the past four years the hospital has been accredited as a Primary Stroke Center by JCAHO.

"North Mountain Hospital demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients," said Michael Skehan, vice president of Clinical and Support Services at North Mountain, who led the stroke certification task force that started preparing the hospital for stroke certification last spring.

"We received zero Level 1 or 2 non-conformities when the surveyors from DNV recommended full certification for John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital as a Primary Stroke Center," Skehan added. "I could not be more proud of our entire stroke certification team and hospital co-workers who all jumped at the opportunity to earn this recognition for our caregiving capability."

Strokes are the third most prevalent cause of death, the leading cause of adult disability, and affect 700,000 Americans every year. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted by a blood clot (ischemic) or by bleeding from a burst blood vessel (hemorrhagic). Both causes impair the brain's ability to function, but they require opposite treatments.

Because diagnosing the cause is key to receipt of appropriate and effective care, it's important for patients and families to insist that EMS providers take them to a Primary Stroke Center, Skehan said, where staff is trained not only to recognize symptoms of stroke, but more importantly, to correctly identify and treat the cause.

"Rapid medical treatment – started less than 3 hours after onset of symptoms – can save many stroke patients from a lifetime of disability," said task force member Robbi Johnson, clinical director of Intensive Care at North Mountain. "This includes quick assessment and stat CT with results within in 45 minutes. A well-functioning team is vital for this success."

"Time loss equals brain loss," said Pam Marquis, RN, clinical director of North Mountain's stroke unit, the Progressive Telemetry Unit, who was also a member of the task force. "When stroke symptoms begin, people should call 9-1-1 without delay."

DNV Primary Stroke Center certification is based on submitted documentation and a site visit by DNV surveyors, during which the hospital staff demonstrates its commitment to excellence. DNV's PSC Certification program incorporates elements from federal CMS hospital standards as well as requirements from the guidelines of the Brain Attack Coalition and recommendations of the American Stroke Association.

During a PSC certification audit, DNV:

  • Reviews actual and potential patient outcomes, as well as required processes.
  • Assesses the care and services provided, including the appropriateness of the care and services within the context of the certification requirements.
  • Visits patient care settings, including inpatient units, outpatient settings, emergency departments, imaging, rehabilitation, remote locations or satellites.
  • Reviews clinical records, staff records and other documentation necessary to validate information gained from observations and interviews.

Members of the North Mountain Task Force on Stroke Accreditation included Skehan; Marquis; Johnson; Michelle Scott, DO; Victor Zach, MD; Islam Abujubara, MD; James Duong, MD; Nelson Faux, MD; Kevin Veale, DO; Julie Cobos, RN; Kathy Brown, RN; Norma Barlow, RN; Carla Stapleton, RN; Kathleen Gariboldi, RN; Sean Broderick, RN; Charmaine Berggren, RN; John Crawford, RN; Steven Hardin; Susan Moravec, PharmD; Kim Gatewood; Patt Rehn, RN; and Maggi Griffin, RN.

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