Hospitals of Community Healthcare System Earn Get with the Guidelines – Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Awards

Community-Healthcare-System-Get-with-the-Guidelines-2016The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has presented the hospitals of Community Healthcare System with Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Awards. The awards recognize Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center staff for their commitment and success in treating stroke patients with the most appropriate, timely care according to national guidelines based on scientific evidence.

To receive the Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award, hospitals must have reached the aggressive goal of treating stroke patients with 85 percent or higher compliance to core standard levels of care as outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. During the same time period, hospitals also must achieve 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures.

In addition to the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Award, St. Catherine Hospital has also been recognized as a recipient of the association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll, for improving stroke care. Over the past quarter, at least 50 percent of St. Catherine Hospital’s eligible ischemic stroke patients have received tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital (known as ‘door-to-needle’ time). A thrombolytic or clot-busting agent, tPA is the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the urgent treatment of ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reverse the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability.

“Hospitals that follow AHA/ASA recommended guidelines such as St. Catherine Hospital, not only understand the importance of treating quickly with tPA, but they also follow evidence-based research that helps to determine why a patient had a stroke in the first place and report these findings,” said CEO Jo Ann Birdzell.

The Get with the Guidelines program is designed to help hospital teams provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. The quality measures focus on appropriate use of guideline-based care for stroke patients, including aggressive use of medications such as clot-busting and anti-clotting drugs, blood thinners and cholesterol-reducing drugs, preventive action for deep vein thrombosis and smoking cessation counseling.

“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognize the hospitals of Community Healthcare System for their commitment to stroke care,” said Paul Heidenreich, MD, MS, national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “Research has shown there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program.”

Get With The Guidelines-Stroke uses 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 Get With The Guidelines-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 Get With The Guidelines Patient Management Tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.

“Community Hospital staff understands the importance and continues to strive for excellence in the treatment and recovery of every stroke patient who comes through our doors,” CEO Lou Molina said. “This recognition from the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke further reinforces our team’s efforts to deliver stroke treatments promptly and safely, and shows that we can make a difference with quality care.”

Improving stroke care in Northwest Indiana is a priority, as spelled out by the findings in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by local hospitals. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Lake County at 43 percent, higher than the state and national averages of 41.7 and 36.9 percent, respectively.

“Every second counts when it comes to stroke,” said Janice Ryba, CEO. “St. Mary Medical Center utilizes evidence-based research to deliver timely stroke care so our patients receive the best treatment in the quickest, most efficient manner. This award highlights our stroke team’s dedication to excellence in health outcomes and safety in patient care.”

For more information about stroke care at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, visit