East Texas is characterized as the “stroke belt” of the United States. High blood pressure, cigarette smoking, poor diet, and physical inactivity are common among the area’s general population, and these are just a few of the risk factors that can lead to a stroke. Today there is a new level of care to not only treat stroke patients, but to educate them on the early warning signs of stroke—Lufkin’s first and only Joint Commission Certified primary stroke care center, Memorial Health System of East Texas.
After 18 months of training and education, Memorial was awarded this month the National Gold Seal of Approval in Stroke Care from The Joint Commission. According to East Texas Stroke Initiative Project Manager Suzan Monsour, the hospital passed the Joint Commission survey with no recommendations for improvement. “The Joint Commission Surveyor said it was clear to her that Memorial has worked extremely hard to make significant strides in stroke care. She also commented that it was evident that the hospital has a strong culture of nursing care and is very concerned about patients,” said Ms. Monsour.
The newly earned National Gold Seal of Approval for Stroke Care is a result of the East Texas Stroke Initiative, a partnership between Memorial and The Methodist Hospital in Houston. This partnership, which was funded by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, was created to help lower the number of strokes in East Texas through continuous education, while helping to restore quality of life for those who suffer strokes.
“Our Joint Commission surveyor felt Memorial had the best community education initiative she had ever seen,” said Ms. Monsour. According to Ms. Monsour, Memorial has a dedicated stroke team that is also staffed by a community educator, Amber Loggins, R.N. Ms. Loggins has been educating local industries, schools, retirement centers and community organizations on recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke. “Time lost is brain lost,” said Ms. Loggins. “If everyone could recognize stroke symptoms and immediately called 911, then that patient would have a better chance of survival and/or overcoming disabilities caused by stroke.”
Another important clinical component of effectively treating stroke is the administration of t-PA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator), a clot busting drug that must be given within three hours of the onset of a stroke. “Fifty percent of patients are eligible for t-PA if they are treated within the three hour window; however, ideal treatment time is 60-90 minutes,” said Ms. Monsour. Memorial has administered t-PA at a rate of 6.25%, which is above the national average of 3%. To date, the hospital has cared for 359 stroke patients since June 2009.
The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association. It is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers. The Joint Commission's Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care. Achievement of certification signifies that the service a hospital provides has the critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes. According to the Joint Commission Web site, the gold seal is the best signal to a community that the quality care a hospital provides is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.
About Memorial Health System of East Texas
As the largest health care system in the deep East Texas area, Memorial Health System of East Texas is a private, not-for-profit hospital that provides care to almost a quarter of a million patients each year. Since its inception in 1949, Memorial Health System has paved the way for quality, innovative health care in East Texas. In fact, Memorial consistently ranks among the nations best for exceptional health care and patient satisfaction.
Memorial Health System of East Texas is comprised of four hospitals—Memorial Medical Center—Lufkin, Memorial Medical Center—Livingston, Memorial Medical Center—San Augustine, and Memorial Specialty Hospital, the only rural long-term acute care facility within the area. Memorial offers a wide array of services, including the newly renovated Arthur Temple, Sr. Regional Cancer Center, which has earned a three-year seal of approval with commendation from the Commission on Cancer. Additionally, Memorial is a regional cardiac care center affiliated with the Methodist-DeBakey Heart Center in Houston. The hospital also is known for providing the area’s only comprehensive diabetes center—The Horace C. Polk Regional Diabetes Center. Other centers of excellence include the Temple Imaging Center that offers some of the most advanced procedures in the area, including PET/CT scanning for cancer and Alzheimer’s, 64 Slice CT scanning, Open Bore MRI, 4D Ultrasound, and digital mammography. Other specialty areas include Orthopedic care, Women’s Services, Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation, Homecare, Wound and Hyperbaric Therapy, Kidney & Diabetes Treatment, Sleep Disorders Treatment, and Express Lab. Memorial Health System of East Texas—founded and funded by the people it serves.