Comprehensive Stroke Care That’s Among the Best of the Best

Friday, May 4, 2018

For Via Christi Hospital St. Francis to earn certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, it had to demonstrate that it had the specialized stroke care team and protocols in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to care for even the most complex cases.

Designation as the regional leader for advanced stroke care also required a demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement in patient outcomes, which were already better than the national average.

The team did so in 2016 and recently underwent a recertification survey for which the results are pending.

Kumar Reddy, MD
Medical Director, Via Christi Neurovascular and Interventional Radiology

Today, St. Francis is one of only two Kansas hospitals to achieve certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, which typically is the largest and best-equipped hospital for treating any kind of stroke, stroke complication or other neuro-endovascular disease within a particular geographical area.

It’s also home to the region’s only dedicated neurocritical care unit — a 20-bed unit staffed by specially trained neuroscience nurse practitioners, physician assistants and bedside nurses and equipped with the advanced neuro-imaging and neurosurgery capabilities needed to treat ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, aneurysms and other neuro-endovascular conditions.

In 2017, its team treated 840 stroke patients, including 630 with ischemic strokes and 210 with hemorrhagic strokes, and received stroke transfers from more than 60 Kansas hospitals. In 2017, the average door-to-needle time at Via Christi was 43 minutes.

James Walker, MD
Medical Director, Via Christi Neuro-Critical Care Unit

Its faster door-to-treatment times, which lead to better patient outcomes, have come as a result of efforts to help prehospital staff and staff from transferring facilities recognize complex stroke situations so that they can let the Via Christi team know that an acute stroke care patient is in route. To further reduce treatment times, Via Christi and Butler County EMS are piloting a process that connects the family or bystander who observed the stroke with the team at Via Christi so that a medical history can be obtained prior to the patient’s arrival.

In January 2017 — based on Via Christi’s performance and designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center — the Medical Society of Sedgwick County endorsed routing the most complex stroke patients to St. Francis. This prehospital notification, together with a direct-to-CT scanner protocol, is helping triage patients through the system much quicker, resulting in improved door-to-puncture endovascular treatment times. This will be increasingly important as the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s 2018 guidelines recommend extending the window for endovascular treatment from six hours to 24.

“Our goal is to work with other Kansas hospitals to build better systems of care by creating a statewide hospital network equipped to recognize, treat and transfer patients with stroke symptoms to a higher level of care in a timely manner,” says Kristina Willour, RN, Via Christi’s Stroke Program Coordinator.

St. Francis was the area’s first accredited stroke center.

“And thanks to the exceptional team we’ve established,” says Sherry Hausmann, Via Christi Regional Hospital President, “we continue to serve as the regional leader in stroke care 14 years later.”