10/4/2013 – NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) Skokie Hospital has earned the Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers. Skokie Hospital is the fourth NorthShore hospital to earn the primary stroke center certification, joining Evanston, Highland Park and Glenbrook Hospitals in celebrating this designation.

Every 45 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. It is the fourth leading cause of death and the number one cause of adult disability in the U.S. A stroke is also known as a “brain attack” and can damage the brain as a heart attack can damage the heart. Strokes can often times affect speech, movement and memory because the cells die in the part of the brain that controls these abilities.

Daniel Homer, MD, Medical Director of the NorthShore Stroke Program, says the only proven effective treatment to reverse a stroke is treatment with the drug– tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – which must be administered intravenously within hours of symptom onset.

“Very few stroke victims are treated today in the U.S. with tPA, a clot buster, because of the obstacles to treatment. The narrow ‘time window’ for administering tPA requires a very rapid response time by the public, by 9-1-1 responders, by the emergency department staff, and by NorthShore Neurological Institute stroke specialists,” said Dr. Homer. “The concepts behind Primary Stroke Centers include a heightened state of readiness for stroke patients, making sure hospital-wide mechanisms are in place to rapidly identify and intervene in acute stroke and a multi-disciplinary team who can deliver rapid and sophisticated care.”

The Skokie Hospital Primary Stroke Center includes an Acute Stroke Team for rapid diagnosis and treatment. It is staffed by a team of neurologists led by Dr. Homer and Jim Castle, MD, Medical Director of the Skokie Stroke Center. All physicians on the stroke team are board-certified vascular neurologists.

Kristen Murtos, President, NorthShore Skokie Hospital, believes having a designated Stroke Unit will help ensure that patients benefit from advances in stroke treatment. “This certification distinguishes Skokie Hospital as a leader in providing superior care that meets or exceeds best practices and ensures the best possible care for those in our community.”

For stroke certification designation, NorthShore Skokie Hospital was required to meet stringent Joint Commission criteria based on recommendations by the Brain Attack Coalition. Some of the criteria include: an Acute Stroke Response Team – available 24/7/365 – that can administer tPA promptly and appropriately; integration of EMS providers into the transport, care and early notification to the Emergency Department of in-coming stroke patients; an Emergency Department staff that is trained to triage stroke patients similarly to trauma patients and to immediately activate the Acute Stroke Team; a Stroke Unit with a specially trained nursing staff and high-acuity clinical and technical monitoring of the stroke patient.

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