Published on July 19, 2017

Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center designated as a Primary Stroke Center


Contact: Miranda Anderson
Essentia Health Director of Communications
(218) 828-7564

Nearly one-third of all people in Minnesota who suffer a stroke seek initial care at a rural hospital like Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center in Brainerd. And healthcare providers at our hometown hospital have proven they are ready to care for stroke sufferers during their most critical hours of need.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently designated Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center as a Primary Stroke Center based on our preparedness to evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency treatment to patients who have serious stroke symptoms.

The criteria to earn the three-year primary stroke certification is significant and includes having a medical director and stroke care team, training nursing and pharmacy staff to administer clot-dissolving drugs, establishing emergency department protocols and having brain-imaging capabilities. Going beyond excellent immediate care, a primary stoke center provides the full spectrum of stroke care, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and education, and establishes clear metrics to evaluate outcomes.

"The surveyor was impressed with the teamwork and the excellent care delivered by all who touch the stroke patients," says Mike Larson, who leads operations at Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center. "The survey is a reflection of the work and care this team provides every day." Congratulations to Stroke Program Coordinator Nicole Anderson, Stroke Medical Director Dr. Rebecca Holcomb and all of the team members involved in this successful survey.

The Stroke Alert team at St. Joseph' Medical Center includes bringing specially trained stroke neurologists to the patient' bedside via high-tech video from Allina. The Stroke Team thoroughly evaluates the patient to confirm that a stroke is occurring. The Emergency  Physician and Stroke Neurologist develop a treatment plan and provide direction to the team to begin treatment with a powerful clot-busting drug called alteplase. Prompt action by the team results in patients typically being treated with the drug within 36 minutes of arriving at St. Joseph' Medical Center. The national benchmark is 60 minutes.

Chief Nursing Officer Pat DeLong explains the certification is good news for patients. "Having a Primary Stroke Center in our community means that we are committed to providing the highest level of care to stroke patients through the latest evidence-based practice guidelines to deliver safe and effective stroke care."

The following is a link to a video of Howard' story and stroke care at Essentia Health, St. Joseph' Medical Center:

To coordinate interviews, photos, and/or video, contact the media relations team.

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