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In what was described by CEO David Gray as an accomplishment resulting from roughly two years of work, Hardin Memorial Hospital has met the requirements to become certified as a primary stroke center. The designation places HMH among an elite group of hospitals in the state best positioned to treat patients who fall victim to stroke. The certification also serves as further evidence that HMH is expanding the value it delivers to its patients, our community and the region.
According to American Stroke Association statistics, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Kentucky ranks 11th in stroke deaths nationally. These statistics motivated HMH to launch a stroke task force in 2009 in an effort to improve early detection, prevention and stroke treatment response. Then, in early 2010, HMH applied for certification by The Joint Commission.
According to its website, The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to work closely with healthcare facilities to improve the quality of treatment and care provided to the public on an ongoing basis. Its Stroke Center Certification Program, developed and launched in concert with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, is nationally recognized. Certification is awarded only to stroke programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.
Improvements in emergency response, treatment and care protocols were necessary and implemented at HMH in order to receive the primary stroke center certification. The streamlined, evidence-based procedures now in place allow Hardin County Emergency Services to give priority to HMH when transporting stroke victims for emergency treatment, rather than having only Louisville-based hospitals as an option. This vastly improves the response time for these patients. Transporting stroke victims locally enables first-responders and hospital staff to administer the care patients need within a very narrow one-hour window of opportunity available for the best outcome.
HMH administration and Stroke Task Force staff are to be congratulated for their work in earning this certification. Knowing that certification renewal occurs every two years will establish the accountability that the improvements in care the hospital has achieved will continue as new protocol standards are developed. As these improvements continue, our local care providers will be best positioned to address the crisis of stroke.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.