Clinical Neurosciences Center

Stroke Center Earns Center of Excellence Designation

University Hospital Only Stroke Center in State to Receive Institute-Level Certification

September 22, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY – The Stroke Center at University of Utah Health Care has been designated a Stroke Center of Excellence according to a new survey sponsored by Chicago-based think tank NeuStrategy. The University Stroke Center earned “Institute” level certification, the highest level recognition possible in the survey, signifying the most advanced technology, dedicated care for stroke patients, specialty-trained physicians and staff, and research to improve stroke care and outcomes. The University Stroke Center is also a Join Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center and has been recognized by the American Heart and Stroke Association as providing the highest level of care for the stroke patients. 

The Center of Excellence (CoE) survey assesses the characteristics and organization of hospital services, staff and facilities for stroke patient care. Hospitals complying with the American Stroke Association’s recommendations for stroke care rank high in the survey and qualify for NeuStrategy’s Stroke COE designation.

“This study reinforces how the right hospital choice can significantly reduce a stroke patient’s risk of death or a crippling long-term disability,” says Jennifer Majersik, MD, Neurologist and Director of the University Stroke Center.  “We’re proud this study recognizes our program for its efforts to deliver excellent stroke care to the region through our services at University Hospital and through our Telestroke Program, which provides stroke support to emergency rooms throughout the state. As of the most prevalent neurological diseases, and we are committed to offering the highest standard of care for stroke patients” said Dr Majersik.

“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost,” Majersik continued. “University Hospital has developed a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients entering the emergency department. This includes always being equipped to provide brain imaging scans, having neurologists available to conduct patient evaluations and using clot-busting medications when appropriate.”

“Specialized stroke patient care begins in the Emergency Department and continues through multiple stages of care,” said Stefan Pulst, MD, Chair of the University’s Department of Neurology. “Certification as a Stroke Center acknowledges that we are a national leader in the implementation of national standards of treatment, not only during the initial diagnosis and acute treatment, but including inpatient care, rehabilitation and patient education and support.”

The U’s Stroke Team, consists of seven board-certified neurologists, three interventional radiologists who are on call 24/7.   Combined with the region’s strongest array of imaging and diagnostic tools, the U’s “Brain Attack” team is able to respond to stroke cases with unparalleled speed and precision.

The American Hospital Association urges patients to know how well prepared their local hospital is for treatment of stroke patients. Prompt treatment at the onset of symptoms can minimize brain damage and resulting disability from stroke. However, many physicians are not properly trained in stroke treatment and many hospitals do not have neurologists on hand around the clock to deal with emergencies.

The study found stroke centers of excellence like the one at University Hospital do things differently. They are 50 percent more likely to have a dedicated stroke care unit where doctors, nurses and medical technicians get on-going education in their specialty. As a result, patients may have fewer complications and be able to leave the hospital sooner.

Certified stroke centers are also 50 percent more likely to follow-up on patients, to help determine which treatments work best and at what cost. 

Every year, 700,000 people in the U.S. suffer a stroke. In light of this study, doctors who care for stroke victims are urging all hospitals to review the way they treat this medical emergency. “We know we can help many stroke patients with thrombolytic drugs and other more aggressive forms of intervention,” says Dana DeWitt, MD, Neurologist and member of the U’s Stroke Team.  “It’s critical that patients get to a hospital that’s prepared to treat their stroke as an emergency.”

Experts note the U.S. population over the age of 62 will increase 80 percent by 2030, and as people age, their risk for stroke increases dramatically.  “U.S. hospitals must prepare for a flood of new stroke cases,” warns Kevin Dunne, NeuStrategy partner and co-author of the study. “Stroke centers of excellence are ahead of their peers in creating the optimal environment for stroke care.”

Media Contact:

Dennis Jolley 801-585-7777 (office), 801-824-7217 (mobile), 

The State of Stroke: Organizing for Success – the Stroke COE Survey White Paper can be forwarded upon request.

About University of Utah Health Care

 University of Utah Health Care is the Intermountain West’s only academic health care system, combining excellence in patient care, the latest in medical research, and teaching to provide leading-edge medicine in a caring and personal setting. It is consistently ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, and its academic partners at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Health are internationally regarded research and teaching institutions. For more information, visit

About NeuStrategy, Inc. (

NeuStrategy, Inc. provides a broad spectrum of strategic, financial and operational support to health systems, physician practices and industry vendors focused on neuroscience, orthopedic and oncology services. The company focus is on products, services and partnerships that deliver the intelligence and resources needed to succeed in today’s complex healthcare environment. 

Rooted in a legacy of specialized healthcare industry expertise, NeuStrategy principals and its team of advisory consultants have completed more than 150 customized neuroscience and related orthopedic and oncology healthcare engagements for academic and community health systems across the country.

“COE” is a registered trademark of NeuStrategy, Inc.