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Richmond University Medical Center Becomes Advanced Primary Stroke Center

October 18, 2019 – Less than six months after launching its new mechanical thrombectomy sub-specialty program to treat stroke victims, Richmond University Medical Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Primary Stroke Center certification. This marks the first time the medical center has achieved this certification in its history.

Richmond University Medical Center underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite review to achieve certification. During the visit, a team of commission reviewers evaluated compliance with related certification standards including program management, assisting patients with self-management, and delivering and facilitating clinical care. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews while at the hospital.

“Every second counts when a person suffers a stroke because as brain cells die, a person can lose functions such as memory or muscle control, depending on which area of the brain is affected,” medical center president and chief executive officer Dr. Daniel J. Messina said. “Making sure we have the appropriate staff and procedures in place throughout the entire course of care when a stroke is diagnosed means more positive outcomes. This certification is confirmation that the most advanced stoke care treatment is being provided at our hospital.”

Richmond University Medical Center is a New York State designated stroke center in recognition of its comprehensive care services available to treat even the most severe stroke patients. The medical center has also been recognized and accredited by several national organizations in past years for it advanced stroke care, including the Get with the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in consecutive years.

“We congratulate Richmond University Medical Center for this outstanding achievement,” American Stroke Association chief executive officer Nancy Brown said. “This certification reflects the hospital’s commitment to providing the highest quality of care for stroke patients.”

Continuing its place at the forefront of elite stroke care, earlier this year Richmond University Medical Center added mechanical thrombectomy as a sub-specialty. A mechanical thrombectomy is a surgical procedure that involves a special device threaded through the blood vessels to the site of the stroke-causing blood clot in the brain. The device grabs the clot and removes it, restoring blood flow to brain tissue. Less than a week after establishing the procedure, medical center physicians saved the life of a 70 year old Staten Island resident who suffered a stroke. She arrived with paralysis on her right side, however after undergoing the thrombectomy procedure less than two hours after her arrival, she regained full use of her extremities and is leading a fully productive life.

“Advanced Primary Stroke Center certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” The Joint Commission’s chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, Mark Pelletier said. “We commend Richmond University Medical Center for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for stroke patients.”

To understand the warning signs of a stroke, the public is urged to become familiar with the acronym F.A.S.T.:

  • "F" represents face drooping, a common sign of a stroke in which one side of the patient's face droops or is numb. Asking the person to smile and checking to see if their smile is uneven is a good way to identify this sign.
  • "A" represents arm weakness. A person having a stroke may experience weakness or numbness in one arm. Check for this symptom by asking the person to raise both arms and looking to see if one arm drifts in a downward direction.
  • "S" stands for speech difficulty. If a person's speech is slurred, if they are difficult to understand or if they cannot speak, this is a good indicator that they are having a stroke. Asking them to repeat a simple sentence can help check for this sign.
  • "T" means time to call 9-1-1. If an individual displays any of the above signs, call 9-1-1 and make sure they get to the hospital right away. This should be done even if the symptoms disappear. Be sure to take note of the time when the symptoms first appeared.

Earlier this month, The Joint Commission recertified the medical center for the fourth consecutive year for its high standard of care provided to patients experiencing chest pain or suffering heart failure.  In partnership with the commission, the American Heart Association also awarded its Heart Check Mark to the hospital for meeting its requirements in the same areas of care.