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Poudre Valley Hospital earns Gold Seal for stroke certification
Poudre Valley Health System
For Immediate Release
December 28, 2010

Gary Kimsey
Media note: Stroke patients and physicians are available to interview.

National stats
  • Each year about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
  • Stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death.
  • On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.
  • About 700,000 persons suffer a stroke each year.
  • Of those, 500,000 are first attacks and 200,000 are recurrent attacks.
  • The number of stroke patients is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population.
Source on national statistics: The Joint Commission
Stroke symptoms
  • Sudden weakness on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing.
  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Remember the word "FAST" to help you recall symptoms if you think someone is having a stroke.
Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
Speech: Does the person's speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a phrase.
Time: Every second brain cells die. Call 9-1-1 at any sign of stroke.
Tip: Go in an ambulance to the hospital. Patient care outcomes are often improved if a stroke victim is transported in an ambulance where medical care can be given on the way to the hospital.

The nation’s top organization that measures the quality of health programs has announced that Poudre Valley Hospital earned the Gold Seal of Approval Award for certification as a primary stroke center.

The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 18,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the U.S., announced the award and certification December 3 following an intensive on-site evaluation of the Fort Collins hospital’s stroke program in October. The Joint Commission is an independent, nonprofit organization headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

With the certification, PVH becomes the only advanced stroke center north of Denver and one of 10 in Colorado.

Jean E. Range, executive director of The Joint Commission’s disease-specific care certification program, said the certification demonstrates that PVH “provides effective, timely care to stroke victims and can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients.”

PVH treated 1,365 stroke and TIA patients from 2006 through September 2010. TIAs are transient ischemic attacks—stroke symptoms that resolve before the brain becomes permanently damaged.

Pam Boehm, clinical director of PVH’s orthopedic, neurological and rehabilitation services that oversee the stroke program, said the program was developed through close team work that involved experts in multiple areas throughout the 241-bed full-service hospital that serves northern Colorado, Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska.

Boehm said PVH developed a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. The process includes equipment to provide brain imaging scans; neurologists and other specialists available 24 hours a day to conduct patient evaluations; and the use of clot-busting medications. The program follows national evidence-based stroke care standards.

Dr. Gerald McIntosh, medical director of PVH’s stroke program and a neurologist with Neurology Associates of Northern Colorado, said the hospital emphasizes rapid treatment.  “With a stroke, time lost is brain lost,” he said.

Dr. McIntosh said the stroke program calls for an incoming patient with stroke symptoms to be evaluated immediately in the emergency room and treated by a team of neurologists, ER physicians and nurses, and specialists from such areas as radiology, pharmacy and laboratory. The patient undergoes diagnosis through computer tomography scanning within 20 minutes of arriving in the ER.

The quality of the PVH stroke program has been recognized elsewhere, too. In 2009, the American Stroke Association presented PVH with a performance achievement award for the hospital’s stroke alert effort that increases the speed that diagnosis and treatment occur.

TIAs are transient ischemic attacks. They are stroke symptoms that resolve before the brain becomes permanently damaged.


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