Southeast Georgia Health System Stroke Program Achieves Certifications
Southeast Georgia Health System was recognized for making significant improvements to local stroke care. That was the day the Health System’s Brunswick Campus became a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center and the Camden Campus an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, both providing Disease-Specific Care (DSC). The certifications were awarded by The Joint Commission (TJC), an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits health care facilities to ensure quality and safe care.
These certifications are especially meaningful for the people of Glynn, Camden and surrounding counties. Living in a “stroke belt” state like Georgia, residents are 34 percent more likely to experience a stroke – the leading cause of disability and fifth cause of death in the U.S.
Reflecting on the importance of these certifications, Paul Trumbull, P.T., MBA, director, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Services, said, “The Joint Commission is one of the world’s most distinguished accreditation and certification organizations. To achieve Advanced Primary Stroke Center and Acute Stroke Ready Hospital, DSC certifications, the Health System met TJC’s rigorous standards for patients experiencing the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Our team built a program utilizing evidence-based Clinical Practice Guidelines, which standardize care and ensure excellent communication between the different areas of our Health System that care for these patients. Achieving these certifications results in improved care and better outcomes for our patients.”
This latest milestone was part of a multi-year effort to improve local stroke care. “Our program began in 2015 when the Health System created the Stroke Program Coordinator position, now held by Cynthia Gahm, R.N. In 2016, Dr. Phillip Amodeo, a board-certified neurologist on the Health System’s medical staff, became medical director of the program,” explained Trumbull. “We developed a multidisciplinary team that created and implemented policies and protocols that meet Clinical Practice Guidelines published by the American Heart/American Stroke Association. Team members providing direct patient care were trained in the protocols. With assistance from our Quality Department, we analyze and improve the program on an ongoing basis.”
Lecia A. Albright, FNAHQ, director, Quality Management agreed. “Over the past few years we have worked collaboratively with the leadership of the Stroke Program and the Stroke Multidisciplinary Team to identify opportunities for improvement in stroke program processes. Achieving the certification demonstrates that The Joint Commission recognizes the success of these initiatives.”
From the earliest stages, the Health System partnered with Baptist Health Jacksonville’s certified Comprehensive Stroke Center. Stroke care teams on both hospital campuses began connecting with Baptist Health stroke specialists through audiovisual telemedicine technology. The technology guides local stroke teams and expedites patient care. Health System radiologists also added software to their computed tomography (CT) scanners to enhance brain imaging, which helps the stroke teams decide if a patient should be transferred to Baptist Health Jacksonville. “It also allows patients to receive life-saving/disability-reducing interventional procedures,” Trumbull said. These steps are crucial. According to the American Heart Association, people lose about a month of disability-free living for every 15 minutes that pass between the start of an ischemic stroke and receiving a clot-busting drug called tPA.
In 2019, the American Heart Association awarded the Health System’s Stroke Program a Silver Plus award. A Gold Plus award followed in 2021. In 2020, both hospitals were designated as Remote Treatment Stroke Centers by the State of Georgia. This designation directs Emergency Management Services (EMS) personnel to take stroke patients to Health System hospitals for proper care.
Trumbull said an accomplishment such as this could never be achieved by a single department. “I want to emphasize what a team effort this endeavor has been. Attaining these certifications would not have been possible without the engagement and hard work from medical staff and team members from across the Health System.”
For more information about the Southeast Georgia Health System Stroke Program, visit sghs.org/stroke.
About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, two comprehensive Cancer Care Centers and multiple specialty care centers, including orthopaedic and spine care, joint replacement, breast care, maternity, outpatient rehabilitation, sleep management and wound care. The Brunswick Campus Cancer Care Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and offers the only CyberKnife® M6 with MLC technology in Georgia. Additionally, the Southeast Georgia Physician Associates medical group includes more than 160 providers working in 20 different medical specialties at more than 50 locations. The Health System is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. For more information, visit sghs.org.