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Holy Cross Hospital receives Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite

2016 GWTG award emblem

American Heart Association recognizes Holy Cross Hospital's commitment to quality stroke care

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL- May 2016 ―  Holy Cross Hospital received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite. The award 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.

Hospitals must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieve 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures to receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.

To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite, 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. Holy Cross Hospital 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.

These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

“A stroke patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute stroke treatment is delayed. This recognition further demonstrates our commitment to delivering advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely,” said Amber Hiatt, RN Stroke Program Coordinator. “Holy Cross continues to strive for excellence in the acute treatment of stroke patients. The recognition from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke further reinforces our team’s hard work.”

Holy Cross Hospital has also met specific scientific guidelines as a Primary Stroke Center with Joint Commission and as a Comprehensive Stroke Center with the state of Florida, featuring a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department.

“The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognize Holy Cross Hospital for its commitment to stroke care,” said Paul Heidenreich, M.D., M.S., national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee and Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. “Research has shown there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program.”

Get With The Guidelines® puts the expertise of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to work for hospitals nationwide, helping hospital care teams ensure the care provided to patients is aligned with the latest research-based guidelines. Developed with the goal to save lives and improve recovery time, Get With The Guidelines®-S has impacted more than 3 million patients since 2003.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.  

Danny Hammontree's story 

It was a typical day for Danny Hammontree: he finished his 24-hour shift at fire station number 31 in North Miami Beach and was ready to return home to Fort Lauderdale. Danny loved his job; growing up, his family members were firefighters, "That's what I knew. It's what I always wanted to do," said Danny. He was offered the opportunity to work overtime that day, which was tempting, but a massive headache prevented him from agreeing to another shift. He wanted to go home, rest and drink some coffee since that usually rid him of headaches.

Once at home in his kitchen, a bowl inexplicably and suddenly fell out of his hand. Yelling out in surprise, he was further alarmed at what he heard: a slow, garbled mix of unrecognizable words. He realized, "I'm having a stroke." 

Danny fell as he tried to move. Laying on his back unable to feel anything and with only his left arm functional, he slid himself to the next room toward his phone to call 9-1-1. This was no easy task as his right eye had also gone blind, making it harder to see where the phone was located. "I felt like I was dying," Danny recalled.

With sheer determination, Danny reached his phone (it took moments before his mind could remember how to work it) and made the call. Despite his struggle, he communicated to the operator that he was a fireman, he knew he was having a stroke and that he needed to get to a hospital as fast as possible. When emergency assistance arrived, all Danny could do was point to the "fire" shirt he was wearing and forced out one distorted word: "Stroke." Since firemen undergo emergency medical services training, he wanted the first responders to know that he was certain he was having a stroke. Through impaired speech, he insisted they take him to the best hospital for stroke. Emergency personnel are required by law to take a stroke patient to the nearest Primary Stroke Center, but Danny knew that some hospitals – Comprehensive Stroke Centers - offer a higher chance of survival for stroke patients. These hospitals have well-trained staff, including a neuro interventional radiologist, and state-of-the-art technology.

Danny arrived at Holy Cross Hospital's Emergency Department and was greeted by Amber Hiatt, RN, stroke coordinator. "She was with me pretty much the whole time," said Danny. "She told me they wanted to use tPA if I would do it." With his emergency training, Danny was familiar with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – a stroke treatment to dissolve the clot(s) causing the stroke. The sooner tPA is given after stroke symptoms begin, the better the outcome for the patient. Danny agreed to the treatment but was unable to communicate anything else, "I couldn't say I was scared. I knew any second I could die. In my line of work, I've seen people as they go through this. Laying there, I felt like the tPA wasn't working. Then my doctor said to me, 'We need to go into your brain right now or you're going to die.' I said ok." His doctor was Laszlo Miskolczi, MD, a world-renowned neuro interventional radiologist.

Dr. Miskolczi and his team at Holy Cross' Comprehensive Stroke Center wheeled Danny into the Interventional Neuroradiology Suite. The team performed tests and found an internally severely injured left carotid artery that generated multiple blood clots. Many of those clots moved into his brain arteries and blocked multiple arteries. Threading a catheter through the groin and up to the brain, Dr. Miskolczi's first task was to clear the path to the brain arteries by fixing the injury of the carotid artery and removing blood clots from the injured artery. According to Danny's initial blood flow test, had he not received this treatment and procedure, he would be completely paralyzed on the right side of his body, with loss of vision, sound or tactile perception on that affected side.

Five months later, Danny is back to full-time duty as a fire fighter - a career he has been passionate about for 19 years. At 44 years old and seemingly healthy, he never thought he was at a risk for stroke. Danny is beyond grateful that he was taken to Holy Cross Hospital. "I had a great doctor. He knew what I did for a living. As someone who also helps people in emergency situations, he connected with me. As difficult as it was to fix me, he didn't stop trying until he was successful.  Any other doctor couldn't have done what he did." The only remnant of the injury is a slight difficulty in speech when searching for words he does not use on a normal basis. Danny is back to doing everything he was able to do prior to his stroke. "Everything is great because I had Dr. Miskolczi."

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.

About Holy Cross Hospital
A part of Trinity Health, Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Holy Cross Hospital is a full-service, non-profit, Catholic, teaching hospital operating in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy.  Through strategic collaborations and a commitment to being a person-centered, transforming, healing presence, the 557-bed hospital offers progressive inpatient, outpatient and community outreach services and clinical research trials to meet our diverse community's evolving healthcare needs.   Thriving since 1955, Holy Cross Hospital's medical staff numbers more than 600, represents more than 40 specialties and is complemented by more than 3,000 employees—all  working to make Holy Cross our community's trusted health partner for life.