Grand Strand Medical Center August 28, 2013

Myrtle Beach, SC -Grand Strand Regional Medical Center was recently awarded The Joint Commission’s Certification for an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. Grand Strand Regional is the only hospital in Horry, Georgetown and Brunswick counties with this designation.

Stroke, or “brain attack,” is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked by a blood clot and blood flow to the brain is cut off. Just as in the heart, once blood flow is cut off the tissue starts to die. A second less common stroke, called a hemorrhagic stroke, results from a burst in one of the blood vessels in the brain. Quick recognition and care at a designated stroke center are the best defenses to reduce the chances of death or disability.

“The certification signifies the hospital’s dedication in working towards better outcomes for patients,” said John Charles, MD, who led the multidisciplinary stroke committee. “Grand Strand Regional has demonstrated that the stroke program meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients. This is particularly important in this area since South Carolina has one of the highest mortality rates for stroke in the nation.”

The designation signifies that the hospital is in full compliance with the most up-to-date treatment guidelines and medical advancements for stroke and transient ischemic attacks, or mini strokes.

Studies have shown that patients who are treated at a certified stroke center have an improved chance of survival and decreased disability. A team of specialists are available to follow specific protocols to ensure fast care and diagnosis for a stroke patient.

The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification program was developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and is based on the Brain Attack Coalition’s “Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers.”

“Designation as a primary stroke center indicates that protocols are in place to provide immediate assessment, evaluation and treatment,” said Dr. Charles. “We have worked with EMS providers for pre-hospital assessment to ensure that we are ready when the patient arrives in the emergency department for diagnostic testing and treatment with tPA, a clot busting drug, when appropriate.”

Early recognition of stroke symptoms is essential. tPA must be given within three to four hours after symptoms appear, so individuals experiencing any type of symptom associated with a stroke should call 911.Treatment depends on the type of stroke but early intervention can save lives and reduce disability.