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North Oaks Medical Center recertified as Primary Stroke Center

Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | Views: 2507

North Oaks Medical Center recertified as Primary Stroke Center

North Oaks Medical Center Stroke Team members gather to celebrate the hospital’s recertification as a Primary Stroke Center in conjunction with National Stroke Awareness Month in May. Members include: (first row, from left) Advanced Imaging Manager Tim Hollywood, Performance Improvement Lead Jennifer Mercer, (second row) Emergency Department Director Eric Neal, Speech Pathologist Robin Musfeldt, Telemetry West Clinical Nurse Manager Britanie Breland, (third row) Nurse Residency Coordinator Ashley McCammon, Clinical Lab Regulatory Analyst Nishita Desai, (fourth row) Post-Operative Director Jackie Carr, Ortho/Neuro Clinical Nurse Manager Heidi Morreale, (fifth row) Vice President of Performance Management Larry Daigle and Laboratory Director Steven Ceulemans.


[HAMMOND, La.] — The Joint Commission has recertified North Oaks Medical Center as a Primary Stroke Center. 


Recertification follows a rigorous on-site review in December 2018 and validates the continuation of certification first earned five years ago in 2014. The Joint Commission conducts a recertification survey every two years. 


With recertification, North Oaks Medical Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®. North Oaks also has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers, for using best practices in providing prompt stroke intervention and care and for improving patient outcomes. 


“North Oaks Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of stroke patients through its recertification as a Primary Stroke Center,” comments Patrick Phelan, who is executive director of hospital business development for The Joint Commission. “We commend the hospital as a leader in stroke care.”


Hospital staff have cared for 1,769 stroke patients since becoming a Primary Stroke Center in 2015.


Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, adds, “We congratulate North Oaks Medical Center for achieving this designation.


By adhering to this very specific set of treatment guidelines, North Oaks has clearly made it a priority to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”


“We are pleased to receive recertification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association,” affirms Michele Sutton, president and chief executive officer of North Oaks Health System. “Recertification validates the exceptional stroke care our team provides and our commitment to advancing stroke care even further.” 


One way that the hospital has continued to advance stroke care in the region is through utilization of a minimally invasive interventional radiology technique called intracranial mechanical thrombectomy since February 2018. North Oaks is the only Northshore hospital using the procedure to help victims of ischemic strokes -- the most common type -- regain movement, language and other abilities. To date, thirteen patients have been treated with the procedure.


When an ischemic stroke occurs, the blood supply to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or plaque. Without a healthy blood supply, the brain doesn’t receive the oxygen and nutrients needed to work properly, and brain tissue begins to die.


Historically, a clot-busting drug called tPA has been used to treat this type of stroke, but it must be administered within three to four hours of onset of symptoms.


According to Interventional Radiologist Zachary Liner, M.D., intracranial mechanical thrombectomy is a game changer because it widens the treatment window up to 24 hours after the initial appearance of symptoms for ischemic strokes. The procedure is made possible by image-guided catheters and a wire cage device, called a stent retriever, which are used to remove blood clots in large vessels in the brain. The catheter is threaded through an artery in the groin up to the blockage in the brain. A stent retriever is then deployed through the clot. Once the clot is captured, the stent retriever is removed through the catheter that was placed in the artery.


Developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and launched in 2003, The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification program is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's "Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers" and the “Revised and Updated Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers.”


Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in Louisiana and the U.S., according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. On average in the U.S., someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.


Other stroke-related services offered by North Oaks Health System include North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital’s Stroke Specialty Program, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). It is one of only five such programs in Louisiana. 


For more information about North Oaks Medical Center’s Certified Primary Stroke Center or North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital’s Stroke Specialty Program, call North Oaks Public Relations at (985) 230-6647. For more information on The Joint Commission and American Heart Association’s Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Center, visit or

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