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St. Mary’s receives 9th AHA Gold Plus Award for stroke care

Also named to Target: Stroke Honor Roll for 7th time

ATHENS GA ― For the 9th year in a row, St. Mary’s Hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. In addition, St. Mary’s was named to the AHA/ASA Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll for the 7th year in a row.

2018 GWTG-Stroke Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Award
Diadra Biles, DPM, MPH, CPH, center, AHA Director of Quality and Systems Improvement, Greater Southeast Affiliate, presents the 2018 GWTG-Stroke Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Honor Roll Award on May 15 to representatives of St. Mary’s stroke program, from left to right: Neurohospitalist H. McCord Smith, MD; Director of Neurosciences Ashley Cown, RN; Stroke Coordinator Joanne Lockamy, RN; and Neurohospitalist C. Van Morris. M.D.

The awards recognize St. Mary’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

“We are pleased to recognize St. Mary’s Hospital for their commitment to stroke care,” said Eric E. Smith, M.D., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) Steering Committee and an associate professor of neurology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. “Research has shown that hospitals adhering to clinical measures through the Get With The Guidelines quality improvement initiative can often see fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates.”

“Working in partnership with our medical staff, St. Mary’s is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients through the continuous implementation of the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke initiative,” said Montez Carter, St. Mary’s Health Care System president and CEO. “The tools and resources that AHA provides help us track and measure our success in meeting evidence-based clinical guidelines developed to improve patient outcomes.”

To earn the gold-plus award, hospitals must meet specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. The goal is to speed recovery and reduce death and disability for stroke patients. Measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health and have a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-busting drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

“A stroke patient loses up to 2 million brain cells each minute stroke treatment is delayed, so fast access to treatment is vital,” said Joanne Lockamy, St. Mary’s stroke coordinator. “Receiving our ninth consecutive Gold Plus Award for stroke and being named to the Target:Stroke Honor Roll for the seventh year in a row demonstrates our ongoing commitment to delivering advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely.”

St. Mary’s Hospital has also met specific scientific guidelines to be certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. In addition, St. Mary’s is the first hospital in the region to offer mechanical thrombectomy, a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to remove the large vessel blockages that cause many major strokes. The procedure is available anytime neurosurgeon Neil Woodall, MD, is available.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

“In a stroke, time is brain, so the faster treatment can begin, the greater the chances are that we can reduce or even prevent death and disability,” Lockamy said. “Stroke can happen to anyone at any age, so it’s important for everyone to know the signs of stroke and to call 911 immediately when they appear.”

The AHA recommends the “F.A.S.T.” system for recognizing symptoms of stroke. Symptoms appear suddenly:

F – Face drooping

A – Arm weak, numb or unable to move

S – Speech slurred, soft or incomprehensible

T – Time to call 911!

Additional symptoms may include sudden trouble walking or seeing, extreme dizziness and vomiting, or terrible headache with no known cause.

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About St. Mary’s Hospital

St. Mary’s Hospital is the flagship of St. Mary’s Health Care System, a three-hospital, nonprofit, faith-based health ministry whose mission is to be a compassionate and transforming healing presence in the communities the system serves. A member of Trinity Health, St. Mary’s is a certified chest pain center and a gold-plus hospital for stroke care. St. Mary’s has a special focus on neurosciences, orthopedics, cardiac care, general medicine/general surgery, and women’s and children’s health.

About Get With The Guidelines®

Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with tools and resources to increase adherence to the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 6 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit