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Metro Health certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health believes everyone in West Michigan should have local access to world-class health care. This includes the most advanced treatments available for stroke, a leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of disability.

That commitment to the highest expertise, quality assurance and technology has now been recognized, with Metro Health’s certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP).

“This recognition is richly deserved and everyone at Metro Health should take pride in it,” said Chief Medical Officer Peter Hahn, MD, MBA. “Stroke care touches almost every part of our organization, and this is a reflection of our commitment to bringing the highest level of care to patients in our region. This is a testament to our team’s dedication to the community’s wellbeing, and to the enhanced expertise brought by our affiliation with University of Michigan Health.”

Stroke care has long been a priority for Metro Health, which has maintained designation as a Primary Stroke Center since 2005. By earning comprehensive certification, Metro Health has the proven capabilities to rapidly treat acute stroke cases 24/7, 365 days of the year, so patients do not experience any delays in treatment. This expands access for first responders to quickly deliver stroke patients to the closest comprehensive stroke center. It also makes Metro a referral destination for hospitals that lack this capability. “We identified a need in the region, determined how to provide the most advanced care, and invested the time and resources to make it a reality,” Hahn said.

“Pursuing the highest level of certification was a strategic decision,” said Augusto Elias, MD, Director of Metro Health’s Comprehensive Stroke Center. Dr. Elias was one of several noted physician leaders recruited to Metro to enhance access to world-class care for stroke patients in West Michigan.

Earning the certification involved reviewing Metro Health against national standards for expertise, procedures and outcomes across multiple departments and disciplines, starting from the 911 call and continuing to the Emergency Department, security, imaging, nursing, the pharmacy, neurology, aftercare, rehabilitation, patient education and support groups.

The efforts extend beyond the walls of the hospital. Metro Health invests time in educating EMS first-responders on the best procedures for assessing patients and communicating key information to the Emergency Department. Public information and outreach campaigns communicate the risk factors of stroke, and F.A.S.T. techniques to recognize the symptoms of stroke. And a monthly support group helps survivors and their caregivers cope with the effects of stroke, aneurysms and AVM.

A strong foundation in comprehensive stroke care and a staff dedicated to teamwork within and across departments enabled Metro Health to quickly achieve the HFAP certification.

“With the support of Michigan Medicine colleagues and our physician leadership here, we were able to attain comprehensive stroke certification in less than a year. That’s an incredible achievement,” said Dr. Elias.

Even more rewarding, Elias said, is when a patient returns for a 90-day evaluation and shows the recovery that is possible with quick, effective and efficient intervention.

“That’s like hitting a grand slam,” he said. “The level of satisfaction is very high. To be able to see that you’re making a significant change in a patient and also for the patient’s family, it’s very rewarding.”

Still, the work does not end with the certification. The Metro Health team is continually looking for improvement. Treatment times and outcomes are tracked, performance data is under constant review, and results are benchmarked against national standards.

“The biggest thing we’re focusing on now is how we can do even more for the patient,” Elias said. This includes best practices at the hospital, extending access through a statewide stroke network, improving after-care and more public education.

Time is not on the side of stroke patients – but Metro Health is.