Friday, February 26, 2010 2:08 PM

Stroke care program awarded Gold Seal for high level of care

Community Regional Medical Center earned the Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission for Primary Stroke Centers. Community Regional earned this distinction the day after The Joint Commission conducted an unannounced on-site review.

For patients, this means the nation’s oldest and largest accrediting agency found the downtown Fresno hospital’s stroke care exceptional. It’s the only program certified at that level between San Francisco and Bakersfield.

“Community Regional Medical Center demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients,” says Jean E. Range, The Joint Commission’s executive director for disease-specific care certification.

“This has been a five-year effort to build a primary stroke center to give our Valley patients the highest quality of care,” said Dr. Tanya Warwick, medical director of Community Regional's stroke program.

Dr. Tanya Warwick

Dr. Warwick says this program, with its top physicians and specially trained stoke nurses and clinical staff, assures patients they are receiving the highest level of stroke care. The certification indicates Community’s program has the most up-to-date stroke care available.

 “We have top physicians in multiple specialties contributing to the care of each stroke patient – from the time they come in to our emergency department to the time they return home,” Dr. Warwick said. “It’s a coordinated care pathway from arrival to discharging our patients.”

The center includes expert stroke care in the emergency department with the potential to administer a clot-dissolving agent to reduce damage to the brain and save lives for appropriate candidates. A specialized neuroscience interventionalist is available with other procedures such as clot retrieval. A dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit and a 20-bed neurovascular unit provide specialized stroke care and seamless transition to the hospital’s Leon S. Peters Rehabilitation Center.

Community Regional voluntarily pursued this comprehensive, independent evaluation to provide state-of-the-art stroke care for the Central Valley, said Carol Vander Meer, Community Regional’s director of neuroscience services.

Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s statements/guidelines for stroke care. The Joint Commission launched the program – the nation’s first – in 2003. Joint Commission standards are directly related to safety, addressing such issues as medication use, infection control, surgery and anesthesia, transfusions, restraint and seclusion, staffing and staff competence, fire safety, medical equipment, emergency management and security.

To find a neurologist, call 559-459-2762.

This story was reported by Mary Lisa Russell. She can be reached at