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Baptist Health System, the only Target: Stroke Honor Roll hospitals in Texas.

At a news conference on December 14, 2010, Baptist Health System announced its inclusion in the American Heart Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll. Baptist is the first and only health system in Texas to achieve this status. 900 hospitals have enrolled in Target Stroke, and as of November 30, only 32 have made the honor roll.

“Bottom line, patients put their trust in Baptist, and we are working to make sure they can have confidence that they are receiving excellent, quality care,” said Chief Nursing Executive Tommye Austin. “This has been a journey toward excellence that has involved a large team of people - not only at Baptist but our physician partners, the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center, EMS agencies, the American Heart Association and many more.” 

Target: Stroke is a national quality improvement campaign of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association designed to improve outcomes for ischemic stroke patients. Target Stroke Honor Roll status means that Baptist hospitals get stroke patients the medical treatment they need in under the national goal of 60 minutes. The Target Stroke goal is 50 percent and Baptist has achieved 72 percent. 

“This is critically important because one minute of brain ischemia can kill 2 million nerve cells and 14 billion synapses,” said neurologist Dicky Huey, Medical Director of the Baptist Brain & Stroke Network. “The more time that elapses before intravenous stroke medications called tPA are administered, the slimmer the odds of a good outcome.” One way Baptist hospitals reduce the “door to needle” times is by having EMS crews take possible stroke patients directly from the ambulance to radiology for scans of the brain which can tell doctors what it going on. “This improved process saves time, but ultimately it saves lives and reduces disability from stroke because time lost, is brain lost,” said Dr. Huey.

"The whole mentality is to strive to take care of these folks as if they were your mother or your father," says Dr. Bryan Kaiser, orthopedic surgeon. "How would you want them cared for? That’s the motivation to doing this - to try to get the very best people."

Another key in improving stroke care at Baptist has been the partnership with the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC).

“We have come a long way from virtually no coordinated stroke care in San Antonio to providing among the best stroke care in the nation,” said David Jimenez, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at UTHSC. “We started talking three years ago about how to improve stroke care in San Antonio, and within a short time we were able to achieve Joint Commission Primary Stroke Center Certification Center of Excellence status for raising the level of stroke care in San Antonio in all 5 Baptist hospitals. Baptist invested in the equipment that has allowed our surgeons to perform life saving procedures not possible before. This latest achievement is a credit to their commitment to our patients, their families and the community at large.” 

The coordinated effort to improve stroke care takes everyone working as a team, EMS, the emergency department, doctors, nurses, radiology and laboratory teams. Because strokes happen around the clock Baptist has implemented an innovative program called “specialists on call,” which means there is expert clinical stroke care around the clock, 24/7. 

In November Baptist earned another honor for stroke care from the American Heart Association – The Bronze “Get with the Guidelines” seal of approval. During the news conference, stroke teams from each of the five Baptist hospitals were presented with certificates of appreciation for their hard work and dedication on behalf of their patients.