PADUCAH — The Baptist Health Paducah stroke program joined an elite group by being honored with The Get With the Guidelines® Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for meeting national guidelines for stroke care, as outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

 In addition, the hospital received the associations’ Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-busting drug known as tPA. If given intravenously in the first 4.5 hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.

 “This award says we strive for the best possible care for our patients,” said neurologist Joseph Ashburn, MD, stroke services director. “While meeting the minimum requirements for a stroke center is considered acceptable, we at Baptist Health believe the people of our region deserve nothing less than the very best medicine has to offer. We are always moving forward to take it to the next level.”

 Baptist Health Paducah celebrates 10 years as a leader in stroke care this year. The hospital became the region’s first certified primary stroke center in 2010, and remains the only local facility with 24/7 neurohospitalist and neurosurgery coverage.

 Neuroscience Coordinator Chapman Offutt, RN, said for the previous two years, the program has been 100 percent compliant with tPA administration time at 60 minutes or less from arrival. Currently, 67 percent of patients receive the drug within 45 minutes of arrival.

 “This is a huge accomplishment, given the steps that must be completed prior to administering the medication,” Offutt said. “We have developed a very rapid and efficient process to accomplish these goals.”

 The hospital also initiated an EMS stroke alert protocol, where EMS alerts the Emergency department of a stroke patient’s pending arrival. The ED physician and nursing staff meet the patient at the ambulance doors to quickly assess and take the patient to the CT scan. 

 “We are getting CTs completed within two to three minutes after arrival,” Offutt said. “Additionally, some EMS agencies are collecting lab specimens for our stroke patients. This allows for much quicker results. Both of these processes have proven to be beneficial to our patients and our community.”

 According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. 

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