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Northside earns stroke certification

POSTED: June 15, 2011 4:00 a.m.

Northside Hospital-Forsyth recently earned recognition for its treatment of stroke patients.

Both the Forsyth site and Northside's Sandy Springs campus have been awarded full two-year certifications as Advanced Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission.

An independent, nonprofit organization, the commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations in the United States.

Katherine Watson, a spokeswoman for Northside, said only about eight hospitals in the greater metro Atlanta area are certified as Advanced Primary Stroke Centers.

According to the commission's Web site there are about 30 such centers in the state.

"We applied to the Joint Commission for the designation. There is a book of standards you must follow that is entirely separate from the normal accreditation standards," she said, noting both locations were first certified in 2009. "[After two years] you have another unannounced on-site survey to renew [the certification]."

Both Northside locations received the recognition after undergoing on-site evaluations and demonstrating compliance with nationally developed standards for stroke care, according to a release from the hospital.

Skip Putnam, CEO of Northside-Forsyth, said in a statement that he and other leaders were pleased that both campuses achieved the distinction.

"[This certification] celebrates the hard work of our staff and recognizes our commitment to excellence and to providing the best possible care to our patients and our community," he said.

The Northside Stroke Care Program provides comprehensive care for stroke patients and those at risk of suffering a stroke.

The program includes screenings, education and early diagnosis, as well as access to a wide array of treatment resources and monthly support programs.

Watson said the certification shows that Northside "has the critical elements to meet [stroke victims'] unique and specialized needs."

"The surveyor was very complimentary of Northside's staff and the care that it provides," Watson said. "She also added that she rarely sees hospitals complete a survey with no recommendations for improvement, as both hospitals did."

Stroke care is an important element in modern medicine. The American Stroke Association reports that about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year.

On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from a stroke about every three minutes, according to the association.

Stroke is the nation's third leading cause of death and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S., with almost 5 million stroke survivors alive today.

Besides the stroke certification, both Northside sites also received a full two-year certification for hip and knee replacement services, and Northside-Atlanta received additional certification for high-risk obstetrics.

The Joint Commission evaluates critical programs based on three core areas: Compliance with consensus-based national standards; effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage and optimize care; and an organized approach to performance measurement and improvement activities.

 

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