• Community Hospital certified as primary stroke center

Published on December 22, 2009

Community Hospital certified as primary stroke center


Contact: Brenda Moore (831) 625-4544

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MONTEREY, Calif. - The first hours after a stroke are the critical time for treatment and now area residents can be assured that they have access to the best level of care close to home.

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula has been certified as a primary stroke center by the Joint Commission, the leading healthcare accreditation organization in the nation. Community Hospital is the only hospital in Monterey County to achieve the primary stroke center designation, which recognizes its ability to improve outcomes for people who suffer strokes. The certification is based on a rigorous on-site review by the Joint Commission as well as an examination of months of patient information. 

"Developing a concerted, standardized, and evidence-based approach to stroke, a common and devastating disease, is an important step in our journey to ensure the highest quality of care for our community," says Steven Packer, MD, president and chief executive officer of Community Hospital. "In a recent speech on the Peninsula, Jill Bolte Taylor, a renowned brain scientist and stroke survivor, called the primary stroke program a gift to the community - and it's one we're very pleased to be able to give."

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today. In Monterey County, there were nearly 700 stroke-related cases in 2008 - an average of nearly two people every day, illustrating the need for an advanced level of education, response, care, and rehabilitation.

"Timely and appropriate treatment is critical to positive outcomes for stroke patients," says Laura Hodge, RN, stroke program coordinator at Community Hospital. "It can mean the difference between full recovery and suffering from serious disabilities."

Community Hospital has assembled a rapid response team for cases of stroke or suspected stroke. New procedures were developed for the Emergency department to quickly evaluate stroke victims for treatment options, including the use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug that dissolves blood clots. If administered within the first 4 1/2 hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA can significantly reduce the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability. Clinical staff members have undergone extensive training in caring for patients who have experienced a stroke.

Becoming a Joint Commission-certified primary stroke center means that a hospital has demonstrated the ability to provide the complete continuum of care, from prevention education to time-sensitive treatment to follow-up care for those who have had a stroke.  

Primary stroke centers:

  • Utilize a standardized method of delivering or facilitating integrated and coordinated clinical care based on the Brain Attack Coalition recommendations for establishment of primary stroke centers
  • Tailor treatment and intervention to individual needs
  • Promote the flow of participant information across settings and providers, while protecting participant rights, security, and privacy
  • Analyze and use data to continually improve treatment plans
  • Evaluate ways to improve performance and clinical practice, thereby improving participant care

Community Hospital also has been awarded the Bronze Performance Achievement Award from the American Stroke Association's "Get with the Guidelines" program. The award recognizes commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations. To receive the award, Community Hospital demonstrated that it consistently followed the treatment guidelines in the program for 90 days, including aggressive use of medications like tPA, anticoagulation therapy, cholesterol-reducing drugs, and smoking cessation.

Community education and awareness are central to Community Hospital's stroke prevention and treatment efforts. An extensive outreach campaign is being developed, addressing stroke prevention, recognition of the signs of stroke, and treatment. The educational efforts are funded in part by two recent gifts to Community Hospital - a $50,000 grant from the Grainger Foundation, as well as a $100,000 commitment to establish the F. Robert Nunes Fund for Stroke Awareness.

 "These generous contributions," says Packer, "enable us to familiarize the community with the warning signs of stroke and the difference fast, evidence-based treatment can make."  

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, founded in 1934 and located at 23625 Holman Highway in Monterey, has grown and evolved in direct response to the changing healthcare needs of the people it serves. It is a nonprofit healthcare provider with 205 staffed acute-care hospital beds and 28 skilled-nursing beds, delivering a continuum of care from birth to end of life, and every stage in between. It serves the Monterey Peninsula and surrounding communities through 15 locations, including the main hospital, outpatient facilities, satellite laboratories, a mental health clinic, a short-term skilled nursing facility, Hospice of the Central Coast, and business offices. Learn more at