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Albany Medical Center Receives Primary Stroke Center Certification
   June 3, 2005


            ALBANY, N.Y., June 3, 2005 ¾ Officials at Albany Medical Center announced today that its stroke program has been awarded Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).  Albany Medical Center earned the organization’s Gold Seal of ApprovalÔ for stroke care based on an on-site review of the program that was conducted by the Joint Commission on April 29, 2005. 

            “We’re delighted that the organization that sets the standards by which health care quality is measured has closely examined the Medical Center’s stroke program and found it to be of the very highest quality,” stated James J. Barba, chairman of the Board of Directors, president and chief executive officer of the Albany Medical Center. “This designation recognizes the extraordinary care provided by our outstanding team of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals who comprise the stroke program.”

Gary L. Bernardini, M.D., PhD., the director of the stroke and neurocritical care program at the Neurosciences Institute of Albany Med is equally pleased to have received the official designation as a primary stroke center from JCAHO.  “This has been a multidisciplinary team effort and we will continue to work as such to provide the most up-to-date technology and absolute best medical care for our stroke patients in the Capital Region and beyond.”

            The Joint Commission’s Certificate of Distinction for Primary Stroke Centers recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care.  Achievement of certification signifies that the services provided by the health care institution have critical elements to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes.  According to Joint Commission officials, “It is the best signal to your community that the quality care you provide is effectively managed to meet the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.”  Only 120 hospitals in the nation have received this prestigious certification.

The acute stroke team at Albany Medical Center is comprised of a multidisciplinary group that includes stroke neurologists, neurosurgeons, a neuroradiologist, nurse practitioners, nurses, vascular surgeons, neuroendovascular interventionalists, rehabilitation specialists and neurology residents.  The stroke team is available to respond for evaluation and treatment of stroke patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the emergency department and within the hospital’s fully monitored designated Lally Neurological Observation/Stroke Unit.  The program treats more than 500 hospitalized patients per year.

 The Stroke Program at Albany Med recently became the first hospital in the region to offer emergency stroke patients the Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia or MERCI device. This corkscrew-shaped device pulls clots out of arteries in the brain.  If used in the first eight hours after a stroke, it extends the time by two hours that a patient can get to the hospital and have the best chance of effective treatment. 

            The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements and guidelines for stroke care.  The Joint Commission launched the program in 2003. The certification is effective for two years beginning April 29, 2005. To date, eight hospitals in New York State have received this designation.

“Albany Medical Center demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients,” said Charles A. Mowll, Joint Commission executive vice president of business development, government and external relations.

Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death.  On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes.  Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

            Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations.  An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards setting and accrediting body in health care.

            Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, has a mission of providing excellence in medical education, biomedical research and patient care.

            For additional information, contact the Albany Medical Center public relations department at 518-262-3421.

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