St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem attained certification May 8 as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.
The designation by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and The Joint Commission is given to programs that offer the highest and most advanced level of stroke care. Only 163 other hospitals nationwide (11 in Pennsylvania) share this distinction.
“The designation tells patients that should they suffer a stroke, they will get the best possible care at St. Luke’s, even if their case is complex,” said stroke specialist Nitya Mambalam, M.D., of St. Luke’s Neurology Associates in Bethlehem.
Someone in America suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 130,000 people each year, according to the American Stroke Association, which has designated May as National Stroke Awareness Month.
“The Comprehensive Stroke Center designation means that St. Luke’s can provide care for the entire range of different types of strokes and that stroke patients can receive cutting-edge, state-of-the-art care in their own community,” said Daniel Ackerman, M.D., Director of Stroke and Vascular Neurology at Saint Luke’s University Health Network.
Stroke can cause long-term disability, including difficulty speaking, loss of vision and memory impairment. Those affected by stroke are less likely to suffer debilitating effects and more likely to be able to return to their normal lives when they receive prompt and cutting-edge treatment, Dr. Mambalam said. “Our skilled doctors, nurses and supportive staff are committed to providing quality care that results in better outcomes for our patients,” she said.
Designation covers staff, equipment, procedures available
To receive the Comprehensive Stroke Center designation, St. Luke’s Bethlehem campus had to show it has available 24/7:
- Advanced imaging techniques including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and computed tomography angiography (CTA).
- Personnel trained in vascular neurology, neurosurgery and endovascular procedures.
- And intensive care facilities for neurology patients.
It also had to show that it has experience and expertise treating patients with large ischemic strokes, intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space between the brain and surrounding membrane) and that it participates in stroke research. A Comprehensive Stroke Center also must coordinate follow-up care for patients who are discharged from the hospital, Dr. Ackerman said. An ischemic stroke is caused by an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain and is the most common, he noted.
“Earning the designation is one more step in St. Luke’s commitment to our local community,” Dr. Ackerman said. “We want to make sure that our patients have access to state-of-the-art care right here in our own backyard.”
All St. Luke’s campuses are equipped with the personnel and imaging to rapidly evaluate stroke patients and provide initial emergent treatment as well as identify those cases requiring highly specialized treatment and patient transfer to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Bethlehem Campus, he said.
Note: This story was contributed by St. Luke’s University Health Network. Its publication is part of a local health news partnership between Saucon Source and SLUHN.