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Mischer Neuroscience Institute: Texas' First and Only Stroke Program to be Awarded Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers

(June12, 2013)

HOUSTON - The Mischer Neuroscience Institute (MNI) at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center achieved a significant milestone recently after being recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as meeting The Joint Commission's standards for Disease-Specific Care Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification. MNI is the first and only stroke program in the state of Texas to meet such standards. The certification solidifies MNI's place in an elite group of providers focused on complex stroke care. Complex Stroke Centers are recognized as industry leaders and are responsible for setting the national agenda in highly specialized stroke care.

"By achieving this advanced certification, the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition," said Mark R. Chassin, M.D., president of The Joint Commission. "Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends MNI for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of care for the community it serves."

"The Comprehensive Stroke Certification is many steps above the Primary Stroke Certification designation by The Joint Commission," said James Grotta, M.D., director of MNI's Stroke Program and chairman of the Neurology department at UTHealth Medical School. "There are very particular and exacting requirements, and to achieve this advanced certification is something that only 37 centers across the country have been able to accomplish and none other in Texas."

Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification recognizes those hospitals that have state-of-the-art infrastructure, staff and training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes. MNI underwent a rigorous onsite review earlier this year during which Joint Commission experts reviewed the institute's compliance with the stringent Comprehensive Stroke Center standards and requirements, including advanced imaging capabilities, around-the-clock availability of specialized treatments, and staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.

"This certification speaks not only to the excellence of our stroke program but also to the incredible teamwork of everyone at MNI, from our world-renowned neurosurgeons and neurologists to the hardworking nurses and physical therapists and everyone in between," said Amanda Spielman, system executive of neurosciences for Memorial Hermann Health System. "That's what sets us apart from other centers: our ability to collaborate together successfully to implement significant improvements to a stroke program which is already leading the way in patient care."

"The Comprehensive Stroke Certification is heavily data-oriented, which allowed us to see evidence-based opportunities for making our stroke care even better," said Nicole Harrison, R.N., administrative director of MNI. "We increased our focus to include both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, we made significant improvements to our peer review process, and we also implemented a cognitive screening and depression screening process for every patient prior to discharge and post-discharge."

According to Harrison, a stroke leadership committee was formed to help oversee and guide the processes necessary to achieve the certification. The committee was made up of physicians and other caregivers from across the Campus -- including the Emergency department, Interventional Radiology, Education and more. For the past six months, the group has held a weekly two-hour meeting to ensure that all standards of practice and protocols -- both new and existing -- are completely integrated across every discipline.

"Education is an integral piece of this certification, and we are already seeing the benefits for our patients," added Harrison. "It's a two-year certification, but we have built the infrastructure to ensure that we will sustain and continue to do better. We are already seeing improvements in our outcomes, such as door-to-needle times for tPA administration in stroke patients."

In order to ensure the stroke program had the necessary support to be considered a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, several new team members were added, including additional stroke coordinators, data extractors and advanced nurse practitioners. Harrison credits hospital administration with ensuring the MNI's success throughout the certification endeavor. "Our administrative leadership team was crucial in securing the resources we needed to make this certification happen," she said. "Without that support, we could not have achieved this significant milestone."