The WVU Stroke Center was recently evaluated as a Primary Stroke Center, one of three Joint Commission stroke program certifications.

According to Aaron Seldon, RN, program manager of the WVU Stroke Center, the stroke team continues to build processes to achieve Comprehensive Stroke Center status, the Joint Commission’s highest certification and the team’s ultimate goal.

“The overall impression from the Joint Commission is that we have a remarkable Primary Stroke Center,” Seldon said.

During a one-day visit, a Joint Commission program reviewer observed WVU Medicine’s clinical care and program management across the entire spectrum of stroke care. Areas of focus included the Emergency Department, Interventional Neuroradiology, the ICU, and 9 East, the neurosciences unit.

“The best part of stroke care at WVU Medicine is the tremendous teamwork that’s involved,” Seldon said. “We are very fortunate to work with a cohesive team of healthcare providers who have a passion for quality stroke care.”

The survey resulted in only one Requirement for Improvement (RFI), which involves working more closely with patients and families to individualize their functional goals for care. It also requires better documentation of their response to interdisciplinary education for treatment, recovery, and secondary stroke prevention through modification of stroke risk factors. The Stroke Center has 60 days to submit an action plan outlining steps to improve that process.

“We welcome any recommendations to improve our practice and outcomes,” Angela Schaffer, clinical nurse specialist for the WVU Stroke Center, said. “We try to make our program as transparent and collaborative as possible. I don’t think we could be more proud of our team’s performance, but we are always looking for ways to be better at what we do. These required changes have the potential to impact our patients in a very meaningful way.”

The WVU Stroke Center was honored in 2016 with the two highest awards offered by the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association: the Gold Plus award for compliance with Joint Commission quality measures, and the Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus award for exceptional treatment times for intravenous tPA (the clot-busting medication). The team also received the 2016 WVU Vice President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Recently, WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals was ranked sixth among academic medical centers and earned the Vizient 2016 Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award for superior performance in quality and safety. The efforts of the stroke program played a role in that accomplishment, according to Matt Smith, MD, medical director of the Stroke Center and neurocritical care.

According to Dr. Smith, the WVU Stroke Center should be ready to apply to the Joint Commission for Comprehensive certification by spring 2017. He credits the success of the center to a large cast of providers who contribute to the overall quality of care.

“We are able to achieve so much because we are truly united,” Smith said. “People from every corner of the hospital enthusiastically participate and are proud to own the fact that we are all a part of the stroke team.”