Joint Commission Pilot Study selection of Physicians Regional impact on comprehensive stroke measures nationwide

(Naples, FL, Dec. 11, 2012) The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has designated Physicians Regional Healthcare System as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. Physicians Regional is the first and only facility in Southwest Florida and one of only 18 AHCA-designated Comprehensive Stroke Centers in the state.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2011, the average age citizen in Collier County and Lee County is over 50; over the age of 50, stroke risk doubles every ten years. Due to Physicians Regional’s increased focus on stroke and cerebrovascular disease treatment and care, patients over 50 are assured that highly specialized, expert care is readily available.

Comprehensive Stroke Centers must meet strict criteria and excel in their ability to provide highly specialized and advanced acute stroke care through the entire spectrum of the patient’s care; from pre-hospital care continuously through the patient’s discharge. In addition Comprehensive Stroke centers excel in elective treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, carotid artery and brain artery occlusions with cutting edge surgical treatment options before a stroke occurs.

The acute stroke care that Physicians Regional Healthcare System offers life-saving surgeries from minimally invasive interventional neuroendovascular procedures to traditional open neurosurgery to treat patients with ischemic strokes (caused from blocked blood vessels) and hemorrhagic strokes (caused from bleeding from a brain aneurysm or other causes).

When EMS notifies an incoming stroke, Physicians Regional activates a “Stroke Alert” and the acute stroke response team that is in place 24/7 is set into motion. This team includes specialized Neuroendovascular Surgeons, ER physicians, neurocritical care nurses, ER nurses, CT technicians, neurocritical care physician assistants, and nurse practitioners waiting for the stroke patient to arrive in the emergency room. This team also consists of a very unique stroke neurologist, called a teleneurologist. On-call specialists are a large group of board-certified stroke neurologists—with a 15-minute response time—seeing only neurologic emergencies. With the help of the EMS, the acute stroke team, and on-call Specialists, doctors at Physicians Regional are able to diagnose and provide the appropriate treatment to stroke patients in Collier and Lee Counties, uniquely tailored to each patient’s condition.

Fewer than 20% of major U.S. hospitals are actually stroke certified.

Under the leadership of board certified Neurosurgeon and Neuroendovascular Surgeon, Dr. Eric Eskioglu, and Neuroendovascular Surgeon, Dr. Brian Mason, the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Physicians Regional Healthcare System offers highly advanced care to patients that experience brain attacks. These patients require and deserve the most up-to-date and evidence-based treatment including:

• A 24/7 response team, available at all times to quickly evaluate and initiate treatment for the acute stroke patient

• Immediate access to the Neuroendovascular & Stroke Institute Surgeons

• The only 3T MRI in Southwest Florida, providing better results…faster

• 24-hour Teleneurology coverage

• The only dedicated Hybrid Neuroendovascular Surgical Suite in Southwest Florida

• A dedicated, robust clinical team specializing in: Emergency, Radiology, Neurosurgery, Critical Care, Cardiology, Respiratory, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Pathology

• The only dedicated Neuro-Intensive Care Unit available in Southwest Florida. Designed with general and step-down levels of care, with a clinical nursing staff specializing in the treatment and care of patients that have experienced a Stroke

• Post-discharge recovery including: Case Management services, education, support groups and outreach for stroke awareness to staff, community, patients and their families

Neurovascular and Stroke Program Director Dr. Eric Eskioglu stresses that, “Time is Brain. Every hour of stroke you lose 120 million brain cells. Life and brain saving techniques can be employed only while the brain tissue is viable. The most effective way to treat these complex cases is to create a truly coordinated multidisciplinary team that unites experts from all fields. By becoming a Comprehensive Stroke Center we will be taking the treatment of Stroke beyond primary stroke centers. This will allow us to offer Neuroendovascular surgical treatment when a patient does not qualify for medical treatment or when medical treatment is not enough. Until now these patients with acute stroke and ruptured brain aneurysms had to be transferred to distant centers such as Miami and Tampa loosing precious time. This is no longer necessary in SW Florida.”

Neuroendovascular Surgery Program Director Dr. Brian Mason in conjunction with the radiologists also developed a groundbreaking CT angiogram of the head with perfusion protocol that is done in less than 15 minutes. This allows each patient with be treated on a case by case basis.

Dr. Mason goes on to state “We can now individualize acute stroke treatment for improved patient outcomes that were unthinkable just a few years earlier”

Both surgeons also committed to clinical research. Drs. Eskioglu and Mason state “We believe in making acute stroke treatment tomorrow better than today by relentlessly delivering care at a point where quality and innovation intersect.”

The significance of Physicians Regional as a Comprehensive Stroke Center is the ability to treat acute stroke patients both surgically (minimally invasive or invasive) and through intravenous clot-busting medication, t-PA. Providing both of those treatments require a coordinated effort led by Stroke Program Directors, Dr. Eric Eskioglu and Dr. Brian Mason. The education of brain attack symptoms are imperative to the patients and the Stroke Team, lead by Drs. Eskioglu and Mason routinely educate local EMS personnel, healthcare providers and community members with the most effective handling of suspected stroke cases.

Walter Kopka, Director of EMS Operations for Collier County, adds, "Physicians Regional Healthcare Systems' establishment of a Comprehensive Stroke Center is a welcomed asset to the community. The alternative advanced treatments provided by their stroke center will provide greater transport options to Collier County EMS paramedics."

In addition, Physicians Regional has been chosen as one of 83 hospitals nationwide to participate in the Joint Commission’s Pilot Study evaluating Comprehensive Stroke Center Core Measures. As all Comprehensive Stroke Centers must continue to meet the performance measure requirements evaluating the clinical quality of acute stroke care from admission through discharge, this unique six-month Pilot Study will evaluate critical data provided by Physicians Regional regarding the ten Joint Commission Stroke Core Measures. When complete, the new approved set of comprehensive stroke measures will be added to the certification requirements, and Physicians Regional at Pine Ridge will have played an instrumental role.

According to Todd Lupton, CEO of Physicians Regional Healthcare System, “With Southwest Florida being referred to as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ we had a responsibility to commit to major investments in both time and resources to ensure that the best possible care can be obtained at our facility. Through participation in the Pilot Program, our team will play an even more critical role in the quality and effectiveness of stroke care.”

The American Stroke Association reports that, in addition to being one of the leading causes of death and long-term disability in the U.S., a stroke is suffered every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes. Furthermore, 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year: 77% are new and 23% are recurrent. Women are more vulnerable to stroke than men. Stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer with 425,000 women suffering strokes annually.

About Physicians Regional Healthcare System
Physicians Regional Healthcare System is comprised of two premier hospitals, an affiliated multi-specialty physician group, and a medical staff of over 300 highly trained physicians. Our fully integrated campuses include 24-hour emergency rooms, state-of-the-art surgery centers, full service diagnostic departments and medical office buildings hosting various physician offices.