Fall 2005

UCSF Medical Center Receives Stroke Center Certification

Recognizing UCSF Medical Center's exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes in stroke care, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has certified the hospital as a Primary Stroke Center. UCSF is the first hospital in San Francisco to receive this designation.

"We are thrilled to be officially recognized as a Primary Stroke Center," said Claiborne S. Johnston, M.D., director of the stroke center. "Over the last decade, UCSF has strived to provide cutting-edge, high-quality care and to build a world-class research program."

Staffed with personnel trained to diagnose and treat stroke quickly and accurately, the stroke center provides all aspects of stroke care, including prevention, acute care and follow-up. A neurologist is on-site 24 hours a day as part of a response team that determines the best treatment option for each patient.

In addition, UCSF offers the latest treatments and tools that aid in dissolving or removing cerebral blood clots. One device recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the MERCI Retriever, has been used to safely remove clots in patients who present with a stroke past the three-hour window during which tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can be used. The tiny corkscrew device is placed in a catheter and threaded through an artery to reach and remove clots. UCSF has other clinical device trials underway to further treatments for this deadly disease.

"Unfortunately, not all patients receive these new treatments because hospitals are not prepared and staff is not trained in stroke diagnosis and care," Johnston said. "We hope to work with the community to change this."

According to Johnston, one focus of the newly certified stroke center will be to conduct outreach to other hospitals and clinics in the San Francisco area. "Many hospitals in the area cannot keep a neurologist on-site to deal with emergencies," Johnston explains. "They may also lack updated equipment, such as new CT scanners, that aid in diagnosis."

Recognizing that patients can only receive the best care reliably if a network of prepared hospitals is in place, Johnston and his colleagues hope to see improvements in stroke care throughout San Francisco. They are currently exchanging information with other health care providers in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, and helping to facilitate the creation of stroke centers in other hospitals in the area.

To contact Dr. Johnston, call (415) 502-7487.

To contact the UCSF Stroke Service, call (415) 353-1489.

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