Skip to main content

University Stroke Center Recognized for Excellence in Stroke Care

SALT LAKE CITY - The University of Utah Stroke Center and University Hospital have received the 2010 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award, the highest level of recognition possible.  The award recognizes University of Utah Health Care’s commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients, according to evidence-based guidelines and for implementing and tracking quality measures to improve patient care.  The University of Utah Hospital is the only hospital in Salt Lake County to attain this level of distinction for stroke care.

To receive the award, University Hospital achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Performance Achievement indicators for 24 or more consecutive months and achieved 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which are reporting initiatives to measure quality of care.

These measures include aggressive appropriate use of medications, such as tPA, anti-thrombolitics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and education for smoking cessation and blood pressure control, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

The University of Utah Stroke Center is a Joint Commission Designated Stroke Center.  As such, University of Utah Health Care’s specialty-trained “Brain Attack Team” of physicians, nurses and medical staff are specially trained to identify the symptoms of stroke and are available 24/7.  University Hospital is equipped with the latest in stroke technology, including CT scanners with specialized perfusion imaging that can reveal the severity of strokes.  In addition, the University’s Clinical Neurosciences Center includes physicians and neurosurgeons who combine state-of-the-art interventional radiology and sophisticated neurosurgical techniques as needed for the treatment of strokes, including removing and dissolving clots directly or repairing ruptured blood vessels.

“The Stroke Center’s goal is to provide the best care available in the shortest timeline possible, and implementing Get With The Guidelines® – Stroke has been a part of our process. The number of acute ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population,” said Dr. Jennifer Majersik, Director of the University of Utah Stroke Center and a neurologist with the Clinical Neurosciences Center.  “Our mission is to provide excellent stroke care – and not just at University Hospital, but throughout the state of Utah through our growing TeleStroke network.”

 "The University of Utah Stroke Center has been a leader in stroke care in Utah for over a decade," said Dr. Stefan-M. Pulst, Chair of the University’s Department of Neurology. "This award further demonstrates our commitment to the prevention and treatment of strokes for our community members as well as our commitment to stroke research and education." 

"University of Utah Health Care is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients," said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  "The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients." 

Get With The Guidelines® –Stroke encourages the use of the “teachable moment,” the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when they are most likely to listen to and follow their healthcare professionals’ guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke. Through GWTG–Stroke, customized patient education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients’ individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish. In addition, the GWTG Patient Management Tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care. 

"This award is a confirmation of the consistent ongoing effort that all our staff -nurses, therapists and physicians - have been making to ensure the best care for our stroke patients," said Dr. Pulst.

 According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.  On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every three minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

“Time is of the essence in stroke treatment because though there is treatment for stroke, it has to be started within 3 hours of stroke onset”, said Dr. Majersik. “Patients and family members should know to call 911 immediately if they have any signs or symptoms of stroke, such as weakness of the face, arm, or leg or difficulty speaking.”

 Know the Signs of Stroke: Think FAST! 

·  F – Facial weakness– Can the person smile?  Does their mouth or eye droop on one side?   

·  A – Arm weakness– Can the person raise both arms?  Are they able to grasp or hold things with both arms?  Is there dizziness or unsteadiness?

·  S - Speech problems– Can the person speak clearly?  Are they slurring their words?  Can they understand what you say and follow directions?  Are they suddenly confused?