'Very important accomplishment for the entire community'

[caption id="attachment_17623" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Candy Weinke, RN, stroke nurse coordinator"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_17635" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="Kaiser Chief of Neurology Dr. Jet Ho"][/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- A year and a half of intensive training and teamwork has earned Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa certification as a Primary Stroke Center.

"This is a testament to the dedication of our physicians, nurses and medical center staff," said Judy Coffey, senior vice president and area manger for Kaiser in Sonoma and Marin.

Strokes occur when blood flow to a region of the brain is obstructed, either by blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain or by bleeding of ruptured blood vessels in the brain.

"When every minute counts, just bringing patients to a hospital that is prepared to immediately care for stroke patients helps minimize possible brain damage and significantly improves chances for survival, recovery and rehabilitation," said nurse Courtney Millstone, quality director at the Santa Rosa facility.

When the symptoms of stroke appear – facial or arm weakness or speech disturbances – and a patient arrives at the emergency department, a team springs into action.

"Emergency staff, neurologists, radiologists and nursing staff have been trained to respond in a consistent, provably effectual manner," said Kaiser Chief of Neurology Dr. Jet Ho.

In addition to the first response team, Kaiser's multidisciplinary approach includes lab workers, health education personnel, physical therapists and continuous data collection and analysis.

Each member of the team has been trained in the use of best practices and tools, and the education is ongoing, said Dr. Ho.

The Primary Stroke Center Certification comes from the Joint Commission launched in December 2003 and developed in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. As of October, there are more than 600 certified primary stroke centers in 49 states. Certification is available only to stroke programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.

Standards of clinical excellence are based on stroke center and stroke care recommendations published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association.

Said Candy Weinke, a registered nurse and Santa Rosa stroke nurse coordinator, "According to the American Heart and Stroke Association, dedicated stroke units can reduce a patient's risk of death by 40 percent."

Kaiser in Santa Rosa is the only hospital in Sonoma County to receive the certification, according to the Joint Commission Web site. Kaiser in San Rafael is the only other North Bay hospital to have it, according to the commission.

"This is more than an important milestone for Kaiser," said Dr. Ho. "It's a very important accomplishment for the entire community."