When minutes count… Providence Saint John’s Health Center provides expert stroke care

July 12, 2016

For stroke patients, time is crucial. Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center, delivering expert diagnoses and treatments to improve outcomes.

The Joint Commission, the independent, not-for-profit organization that reviews health care performance standards, has certified and accredited Providence Saint John’s as a specialized stroke treatment center, the only one serving Santa Monica and surrounding communities.

“We have passed a rigorous screening to ensure we are providing the best possible assessment and treatment for stroke patients,” said Marcel Loh, the hospital’s chief executive. “Stroke teams are composed of physicians, nurses and therapists working quickly and skillfully, and that greatly improves outcomes for several types of stroke.”

In 2010, Los Angeles County formalized a program that requires its paramedics to transport suspected stroke victims to the nearest certified stroke center, bypassing hospitals without the accreditation. Stroke centers have neurologists available at all times and have the facilities to perform blood tests, brain scans and treatment for stroke patients. 

“Providence Saint John’s is positioned to provide the best possible expert care to stroke patients, close to home,” said neurologist Jason Tarpley, M.D., medical director of the stroke program at Providence Saint John’s. “And, now we have our official Primary Stroke Center certification from The Joint Commission.” 

The service is most effective if the public recognizes the key symptoms of stroke: weakness on one side of the body, severe headache and difficulty walking, speaking or seeing. Outcomes for certain types of stroke are vastly improved if patients are treated within the first three hours of suffering the symptoms.

“Stroke is a 911 emergency.  If recognized and treated quickly, we may be able to offer patients a clot-busting medication or a procedure to open a blocked artery that can stop a stroke in its tracks,” said Renee Ovando, a registered nurse and the hospital’s stroke and neurovascular program manager. “In addition to emergent care, we are committed to supporting the follow-up and recovery for stroke survivors at our clinic and support group.”

Primary stroke centers established in recent years at the five other Providence medical centers in the Los Angeles Area have proven what this expertise can mean – extraordinary recoveries for some stroke patients.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth 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.