Comprehensive Stroke Care

Friday, February 21, 2020

When seconds matter, count on Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.


Jim Walker, MD, and Kumar Reddy, MD, in the Neuroendovascular Suite at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis

Comprehensive Stroke Center certification is a big deal for hospitals — and an even bigger one for patients and their families.

“During a stroke, 2 million neurons die each minute, which is why getting to the right place at the right time matters,” says Jim Walker, MD, the board-certified anesthesia, critical care and neurocritical care specialist who has provided medical leadership for the program for nearly a decade. “We want patients and their hospital providers to know that when seconds count, they can count on us.”

That’s why for more than a decade, Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, the only Wichita hospital with the demonstrated ability to deliver advanced stroke care 24/7, has invested significant resources to further the stroke program.

It’s that level of commitment that eventually led to St. Francis achieving and maintaining certification as an advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, the highest level of stroke certification possible.

“We didn’t achieve this level of accomplishment overnight,” says Kevin Strecker, Ascension Via Christi’s Chief Operating Officer, noting that when the stroke program became certified as a primary stroke center nearly 15 years ago, it was the first in the area to do so. “It literally takes years of investment, both of time and financial resources, along with a talented, multidisciplinary team of caregivers committed to continuous improvement.”

Stroke, the nation’s leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death, is serious business and requires a systemwide response from dedicated teams with advanced capabilities.

The experience and expertise from St. Francis’ multidisciplinary team remains unrivaled in its geographic area. St. Francis is home to the region’s first dedicated neurocritical care unit — a 20-bed unit staffed by fellowship-trained physicians and specialty trained neuroscience nurse practitioners, physician assistants and bedside nurses. Additionally, the hospital is equipped with advanced neuro-imaging and complex neuro-endovascular and neurosurgery capabilities needed to treat ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, aneurysms and other neuro-vascular conditions.

This pre-hospital notification and screening for stroke severity, together with a direct-to-CT scanner protocol, has helped triage patients through the system much quicker, resulting in improved door-to-puncture endovascular treatment times.


Kumar Reddy, MD, and Jim Walker, MD, walk the halls at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.

For the fourth year in a row, Ascension Via Christi St. Francis received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus achievement award and its Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus award.

Those awards — the highest given by the AHA/ASA — serve as a testament to Via Christi’s long-standing commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment, according to the nationally recognized organization.

“Being recognized at this level requires dedication and teamwork throughout the continuum of care from first medical contact to hospital discharge,” says Kristina Willour, Program Coordinator for the Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center at St. Francis.

“Every member of our experienced team is dedicated to continuous improvement because we want patients in the community we serve to receive the best care possible,” Dr. Walker says.