The Stroke Center at Grady Memorial Hospital continues leadership in stroke care in the southeast thanks to the steadfast dedication and multi-specialty approach of its team in diagnosing and treating stroke patients.
In 2005, the Grady became the first safety-net hospital in the US to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Recently, Grady earned re-certification honors after the Joint Commission's two-year inspection.
The highest "gold seal of approval" signifies Grady complies with and has sustained national standards in the implementation of established clinical practice guidelines, performance measurements and continuous improvement programs for the care of stroke patients.
"This is a remarkable distinction, as only five percent of hospitals in the country have been certified as Stroke Centers and Grady was the first safety-net hospital in the country to gain certification," says Michael Frankel, MD, professor of neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, and chief of neurology for the Grady Health System.
Grady's multi-specialty approach in caring for persons who have suffered a stroke means treatment begins as soon as they arrive in the emergency room.
"Achieving excellence in stroke care at Grady requires a highly coordinated and interdisciplinary effort involving many individuals from almost every department in the hospital," says Dr. Frankel.
In stroke treatment every minute counts because there is a critical golden hour to save the brain, Dr. Frankel explains. Strokes, or "brain attacks," occur nearly every 45 seconds and are the leading cause of long-term disability in the nation. Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
There are two kinds of stroke. Ischemic stroke, which account for about 80 per cent of cases, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. Stroke is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer in the U.S. According to the American Stoke Association about 700,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year alone.
African Americans are particularly vulnerable. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, stroke is more common and more deadly even in young and middle-aged African American adults than for any ethnic group in the U.S. Additionally, Georgia is in the heart of the "Stroke Belt," which records a higher incidence of death and disability due to stroke than any other region in the country.
"Increased risk factors, access to care, culture and nutrition all play a role in the elevated numbers," says Dr. Frankel.
Dr. Frankel has been working in the field of acute stroke research since 1992. Under his leadership Grady has hosted major clinical trials in stroke therapies, and it was the first hospital in the Southeast to have a round-the-clock stroke team.
Through its commitment to excellence, members of Grady's Stroke Center team have played a critical role in helping many hospitals across the state improve stroke care with the Paul Coverdell Stroke Registry. Since its creation in 2001, the registry tracks the impact of stroke and available treatment for patients admitted with stroke throughout Georgia in an effort to reduce death and improve outcomes after stroke.
"Improving stroke care requires a group of highly motivated and passionate people working towards a common goal," says Dr. Frankel. "At Grady, we've championed the effort to improve stroke care. From the moment 911 is dialed to after discharge and follow-up, and everything in between, there is an opportunity to make care better."
The best treatment for stroke is prevention - eat a well balanced diet, exercise, manage diabetes, control high blood pressure and don't smoke. But if there is a medical emergency, Dr. Frankel says, "If you're in the throws of a stroke and you are taken to Grady, you're going to have the best care possible. We have a specialized team ready and waiting to deal with your specific condition. Grady is a stroke ready hospital."