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SGMC Recognized for Providing Quality Treatment for Stroke, the Third Leading Cause of Death in Georgia

Posted on: August 10th, 2012


Jim Groover, Director of Quality Improvement with the American Heart Association, Kim Megow, MD, Chief Medical Officer SGMC, Brian Dawson, MD, Stroke Program Director According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States.

On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke protocols address that critical element of time,” said Dr. Brian Dawson, SGMC’s Stroke Program Director. He urges people to use the acronym FAST.

If you have facial droop (F), tingling or weakness in the arm (A), slurred speech (S), then remember time (T) and don’t delay in calling 911 immediately. For advancing stroke care by achieving these Get With The Guidelines-Stroke measures in Georgia’s “Stroke Belt,” which encompasses an area of the state from Albany to Savannah, SGMC has received a prestigious award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Mr. Jim Groover, Director of Quality Improvement Initiatives with the American Heart Association presented the award. He stated, “On behalf of the American Heart/American Stroke Association it is my pleasure to announce the Get with The Guidelines Bronze-Stroke award of achievement for South Georgia Medical Center. South Georgia Medical Center becomes the first institution in the south Georgia region to receive this distinguished honor, Bronze being the first stage of the lengthy award process which will move forward to Silver and on to the prestigious Gold award.”

Groover went on to explain that south Georgia, lying in the center of the region of the nation with the highest prevalence of stroke, the “Stroke Belt,” will begin to see significant decreases in negative stroke outcomes based on the treatment guidelines used at SGMC. “Citizens of south Georgia should feel a sense of great comfort knowing that South Georgia Medical Center has adopted this evidence-based medical practice toward the treatment of all stroke patients,” he added.

The receipt of this award signifies the completion of 90 consecutive days of care consistent with the treatment guidelines of the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Program. These guidelines include aggressive use of medications like tPA, cholesterol-reducing drugs and smoking cessation. The 90-day evaluation period is the first in an ongoing self-evaluation by the hospital to continually reach the 85 percent compliance level needed to sustain this award.

Measured within the period from December 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012, SGMC achieved an average of 98.3 percent against seven achievement measures set out by the AHA/ASA. “The time is right for SGMC to be focused on improving the quality of stroke care by implementing these guidelines. The number of stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population,” said Dr. Megow.

“Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the country, and south Georgia is included in the section of the country that has the highest rate of stroke overall,” she added. Since the SGMC Stroke Program began in July 2011, around 380 strokes patients have been treated and close to 40 public education programs have been presented in Valdosta and surrounding areas by Dr. Brian Dawson and his team. For more information, please visit www.sgmc.org/services/stroke.aspx.