Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has received four prestigious national and state awards for excellence in and quality of stroke care in Massachusetts
Jul 17, 2017

HOLYOKE, MA - July 17, 2017 -Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has received four prestigious national and state awards for excellence in and quality of stroke care in Massachusetts, including the American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus award for the eighth consecutive year.
Recognition for HMC's stroke program included:
  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite Plus, recognizes the hospital's commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient's arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. HMC earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.
  • Defect-free Care Award from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), which recognizes HMC for providing defect-free care for 90 percent or more of its stroke patients, utilizing all of the interventions for which each patient was eligible between January 2016 - December 2016. Defect-free care is achieved when a patient receives the appropriate care based on clinical guidelines.
  • Modified Rankin Scale greater than or equal to 85% Award from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program at the Massachusetts DPH, which recognizes HMC as a hospital which completed the Modified Rankin Scale on at least 85% of stroke patients from January 2016 - December 2016.
  • Dysphagia Screening greater than or equal to 90% Award from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program at the Massachusetts DPH, recognizing HMC for completing dysphagia screening on at least 90% of stroke patients from January 2016 - December 2016.

"Holyoke Medical Center has sustained excellence in stroke care since 2007. These quality achievement awards demonstrate the consistency and dedication amongst our staff for the past decade," said Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems.
Angela Smith, R.N., HMC's Stroke Clinical Manager, added "we are proud to be recognized by these prestigious awards as a validation for the exceptional care we provide to all of our patients."

Stroke is now the fourth-leading cause of death in Massachusetts, and remains a leading cause of adult disability. Immediate assessment and treatment is critical to help improve outcomes.
Knowing the key signs and symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately can save a life. The F.A.S.T. acronym is an easy way to remember:
  • Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile
  • Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms
  • Speech: Does the speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a phrase
  • Time: If you observe these symptoms, call 9-1-1
Making simple lifestyle changes and managing your medical conditions can help you avoid a stroke.
M. Zubair Kareem, M.D., medical co-director of Holyoke Medical Center's stroke program, urges you to take the following steps:
  1. Control your blood pressure. Keep it no higher than 120/70.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation. Limit yourself to an average of two alcoholic drinks per day (for men) or one per day (for women).
  3. Keep your cholesterol at a healthy level. Aim for an HDL (good cholesterol) reading of 50 mg/dl or more and an LDL (bad cholesterol) reading of less than 100 mg/dl.
  4. Stop smoking if you haven't already.
  5. Lose weight if you are obese. Shoot for a body mass index of 25 or less.
  6. Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. Limit your A1C level to 6.5.
  7. Maintain a healthy diet, low in sodium and fat. The fewer refined foods and more fresh foods you can eat, the better. Replace refined carbohydrates with whole-grain breads, whole-wheat flour and brown rice (this will increase your fiber). Also, eat red meat sparingly (this will lower your cholesterol). Fi­nally, don't overeat, as this can lead to obesity, a stroke risk factor.
  8. If you have atrial fibrillation, don't stop taking your blood-thinner medication. This major risk factor for stroke must be continually managed.
  9. Get tested for sleep apnea if you are having trouble sleeping or if you've been waking up feeling unrefreshed after full nights of sleep.
  10. Avoid or minimize stress.
About Holyoke Medical Center:
Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) is a 198-bed independent community hospital with over 1,300 employees serving individuals and families throughout the cities and towns of the Pioneer Valley. The medical staff includes more than 300 physicians and consulting staff. Holyoke Medical Center is a nationally-accredited hospital and received a 2016 Top Hospital Award from the Leapfrog Group for excellence in quality of care and patient safety. This full-service hospital provides a complete line of inpatient and outpatient medical and surgical services, including an award-winning birthing center with the only Baby Friendly designation status in the region. Holyoke Medical Center's award-winning Stroke Service has been consistently recognized as one of the best in the state for the past eight years and has received the 2017 Get with the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Honor Roll Elite Plus Award from the American Stroke Association. Holyoke Medical Center is a member of Valley Health Systems in Holyoke which also includes the affiliates Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice Life Care, Western Mass Physician Associates and River Valley Counseling Center.

About Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program
For more information about the Massachusetts Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program, or about FAST and the DPH stroke awareness campaign, please visit: www.mass.gov/dph/heartstroke.

About Get with the Guidelines:
Get With The Guidelines® is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's hospital-based quality improvement program that provides hospitals with tools and resources to increase adherence to the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal of saving lives and hastening recovery, Get With The Guidelines has touched the lives of more than 6 million patients since 2001. For more information, visit heart.org.

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