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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (April 16, 2010)
Contact: Bob Lowry, USA Medical Center, (251) 471-7262

USA Medical Center Stroke Program Earns Gold Achievement Award


MOBILE - The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association "Get With The Guidelines" program has presented the University of South Alabama Medical Center with the Gold Performance Achievement Award for stroke care, the only hospital in Mobile to be selected. This is the second consecutive year USA Medical Center has been recognized with the Gold Award for excellence in stroke care.

Get With The Guidelines-Stroke (GWTG-Stroke) is an in-hospital program designed to improve acute stroke treatment and prevent future strokes and cardiovascular events. GWTG-Stroke focuses on quick diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. It also involves care team protocols once patients are admitted to ensure that they are treated and discharged appropriately. The Gold award recognizes hospitals that achieve performance scores of 85 percent or greater compliance with quality standards for 24 consecutive months.

This latest award further recognizes USA Medical Center's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

"With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the GWTG-Stroke Gold Performance Achievement Award recognizes the crucial element of time," Dean Naritoku, M.D., medical director of the Regional Stroke Center at USA Medical Center and professor of neurology and pharmacology in the USA College of Medicine, said.

USA Medical Center has developed a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This includes always being equipped to provide brain-imaging scans, having neurologists available to conduct patient evaluations and using clot-busting medications when appropriate.

"USA Medical Center is improving the quality of stroke care by implementing GWTG-Stroke guidelines," Naritoku said. "The number of acute ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population."

According to the American Stroke Association, each year approximately 700,000 people suffer a stroke; 500,000 are first attacks and 200,000 are recurrent. Of stroke survivors, 21 percent of men and 24 percent of women die within a year, and for those aged 65 and older, the percentage is even higher.

USA Medical Center received the award by consistently complying for at least two years with the requirements in the GWTG-Stroke program. These include aggressive use of medications such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy for DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation.

GWTG-Stroke uses the "teachable moment," the time soon after a patient has had a stroke, when they are most likely to listen to and follow their health care professionals' guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke.

Through GWTG-Stroke, customized patient education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients' individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish. In addition, the GWTG Patient Management Tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.

For additional information, please call the USA Stroke Center at 470-5801 or visit

From left, members of the stroke team at USA Medical Center include, front row, Charlotte Craig, RN, ED; Kacey York, clinical educator; Dr. Daniel Dees and Sharon Ezelle, director of Quality Management and Social Services/Utilization Review; second row, Debbie Brannon, RN, Case Management and Dr. Shannon Overs; third row, Elizabeth Allen, speech therapist; Dr. Dean Naritoku, medical director; Cindy Carrigan, special project coordinator; back row, Elmer Sellers, assistant hospital administrator; Anthony "Deek" Cunningham, occupational therapist; Dr. Izabela Koper, Dr. Elliot Foster and Mike Perry, physical therapist.

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Date last changed: April 20, 2010 8:06 AM