Calif. Hospitals Recognized by AHA for Rapid Stroke Care

By: McClatchy/ EMSWORLD

Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.

Jan. 30—All Northern California Kaiser Permanente hospitals–including the Vallejo and Vacaville medical centers–received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Achievement Awards, health plan officials said.

Also, 20 hospitals earned a place on the Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll-Elite Plus, the organization’s award for excellence in rapid stroke care.

Vallejo received both, a spokeswoman said.

The American Heart Association distinction recognizes each of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California hospitals for reaching an aggressive goal of achieving 85 percent or higher of all program indicators for two or more consecutive years, she said.

The award recognizes Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence, officials said.

“It’s proven that getting treatment for stroke quickly is critical to survival and recovery,” Kaiser Permanente Northern California president Janet Liang said in a statement. “In our Northern California hospitals, we are more than twice as fast as the national average in delivering the clot-dissolving medication for new stroke patients. That’s why this recognition is so meaningful to us—it represents better outcomes and lives saved.”

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association guidelines recommend “door-to-needle” times of 60 minutes or less for intravenous r-tPA, the medication that dissolves the stroke-causing clot and restores blood flow to the brain. However, studies show that fewer than 30 percent of acute ischemic stroke patients in the United States are currently being treated within this window.

A recently published Kaiser Permanente study in the journal Stroke, looked at the adoption of a telemedicine program and standardized treatment protocol for stroke care across Kaiser Permanente’s 21 Northern California hospitals and found that the average treatment time for intravenous r-tPA was 34 minutes—more than twice as fast as the national average.

“What differentiates our program is our integrated approach to care delivery—as we leveraged with this nation-leading stroke care. Our model allows for the quick spread of cutting-edge innovations across all our hospitals,” The Permanente Medical Group executive director and CEO Richard S. Isaacs said. “We have also widely adopted new technology, like telemedicine. This means our patients have access to highly-trained specialists regardless of their physical location.”

All Kaiser Permanente emergency departments in Northern California are equipped with telestroke carts, which include a video camera and access to scans and test results. This technology enables access to a dedicated, specially-trained neurologist who conducts a patient’s neurologic physical exam remotely via video, officials said.

The awards were presented to representatives of each of the Kaiser Permanente medical centers during the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles on Jan. 25.

For more information about recognizing the signs of stroke, visit


Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

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