Grady Hospital’s stroke center receives top rating, one of only 40 in nation and only safety net hospital

By David Pendered

Ed Renford used to say he was glad he had his stroke while at work at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Grady Hospital's new designation as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center will benefit those who suffer a stroke, Georgia's third-highest cause of death. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Grady Hospital’s new designation as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center will benefit those who suffer a stroke, Georgia’s third-highest cause of death. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Renford, who was Grady’s CEO when he succumbed in 2000, figured that he was in the right place to receive the best possible treatment for Georgia’s third-highest cause of death. Renford recovered and returned to work until he chose to retire in 2003.

Now, Grady’s credentials have been upgraded in stroke care. Grady’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center has been designated an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, a national accrediting entity. The designation affirms that Grady has specific skills to treat the most complex stroke cases, according to a description by the Joint Commission.

Grady is the nation’s first safety net hospital to receive the designation, and one of just 40 health care providers nationwide to have earned the voluntary designation, according to a statement Grady released Monday.

Grady officials said in the statement the award affirms their efforts to provide exemplary care of an affliction so common in the southeast that the region is known as the country’s stroke belt.

“Being acknowledged by the Joint Commission as a leader in stroke care is both an honor and a reaffirmation of the hospital’s ongoing mission to provide top-quality healthcare,” said John Haupert, president and CEO of Grady Health System. “This prestigious distinction is a significant recognition of the expertise and skills that have been developed here at Grady.”

“I am extremely proud of the work that we do here to provide high-quality stroke care for our patients,” said Dr. Michael Frankel, Grady’s chief of neurology and director of the Marcus stroke center. “The extraordinary skills and facilities at the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center, including internationally renowned physicians, raise the bar for stroke care in metro Atlanta and across the region.”

Stroke sufferers from across northeast Georgia already are benefitting from Grady’s advanced capacity to treat stroke and its aftermath. According to the statement from Grady:

“The Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center has developed relationships with over 60 hospital providers across Georgia to transport their patients to Grady.  In conjunction with several air ambulance and EMS ground partners, Grady is able to provide life-saving services to those critical stroke patients who live across the state and the region.  Due to these partnerships and the skills at the Grady Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center has been able to treat nearly 1,000 stroke patients a year.”

The Joint Commission visited Grady in April and determined the stroke program met the criteria for its new, top designation.

The criteria for the new advance stroke center designation was developed by the Joint Commission with guidance from the Brain Attack Coalition, a non-profit consortium of groups that work to reduce the rate of death and disability associated with stroke.

The new designation expands on an earlier one, the certified Primary Stoke Center, which had been crafted with guidance from American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The requirements to be certified as an advanced stroke center include qualifying for the disease-specific care and as a primary stroke center, plus the following:

  • “Have dedicated neuro-intensive care unit beds for complex stroke patients that provide neuro-critical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • “Use advanced imaging capabilities.
  • “Meet minimum requirements for providing care to patients with a diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage; performing endovascular coiling or surgical clipping procedures for aneurysm; and administering IV tPA.
  • “Coordinate post hospital care for patients.
  • “Use a peer review process to evaluate and monitor the care provided to patients with ischemic stroke and subarachnoid hemorrhage.
  • “Participate in stroke research.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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