Stockbridge, Ga. (July 3, 2013) – Julie Espinosa, RN, clinical care coordinator in the emergency department at Piedmont Henry Hospital, knows all-too-well that stroke affects the whole family, not just the patient. Seventeen years ago, she lost her grandfather after he suffered two strokes. Since that time, Espinosa has been passionate about improving the quality of available stroke care.
A few years ago, when Espinosa came to Piedmont Henry, she joined a team of dedicated clinicians who were working towards certification as a Primary Stroke Center. Today, because of the team’s work, Piedmont Henry has achieved Primary Stroke Center certification by The Joint Commission, an independent an independent not-for-profit organization which evaluates health care organizations.
“I personally witnessed the effects stroke can have on both the patient and the patient’s family so I knew how important this accreditation was to achieve,” said Espinosa. “I’m amazed by just how far stroke care has come since my grandfather passed and am proud to honor his memory by improving stroke care and awareness.”
To achieve Primary Stroke Center certification, Piedmont Henry underwent a rigorous on-site review. Experts in stroke care from The Joint Commission evaluated standards, clinical practice guidelines and performance measurement activities. Upon completion of the review, Piedmont Henry was granted a standard two-year certification and became the second Piedmont hospital to achieve designation as a Primary Stroke Center.
“In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, Piedmont Henry has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its stroke patients,” said Jean Range, M.S., RN, C.P.H.Q. executive director, Disease-Specific Care Certification, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends Piedmont Henry for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”
Georgia, which is located in the Stroke Belt (the southeastern portion of the United States known for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease), has a death rate that is 16 percent higher than the national average, according to Georgia Department of Community Health, Division of Public Health.
“Approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable with proper treatment when warning signs are observed,” said Richard Stappenback M.D., lead neurologist for Piedmont Henry’s stroke program. “The most common signs of a stroke include sudden difficulty seeing, walking or talking; weakness on one side of the body; and a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.”
Stroke, also referred to as a “brain attack,” occurs when a blood vessel breaks or a blood clot blocks an artery, interrupting blood supply to the brain. Strokes can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, race or gender. The key to optimal recovery is to act F.A.S.T.:
• Face – look for an uneven smile
• Arm – check if one arm is weak
• Speech – listen for slurred speech
• Time – call 911 right away
For more information on stroke care at Piedmont Henry Hospital, visit piedmonthenry.org.