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Hospital Receives 'Primary Stroke Service' Designation

For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Scott Pickard
January 4, 2005

SO. WEYMOUTH, Mass., Jan. 4 -- South Shore Hospital is among the first Massachusetts hospitals to receive state Department of Public Health (DPH) designation as a provider of primary stroke service. The designation signifies that South Shore Hospital meets  requirements to provide emergency diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients with acute stroke symptoms 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

DPH introduced primary stroke service licensure regulations to assure definitive care to patients experiencing acute stroke symptoms. The regulations were designed to allow the emergency medical services (EMS) community to identify those facilities equipped to safely evaluate and treat these patients.

During a September 23, 2004 on-site review, DPH surveyors evaluated South Shore Hospital's systems for communicating with EMS personnel, its ability to provide diagnostic
CT scan exams within accepted time targets, its ability to perform and evaluate chest x-rays, EKGs, and lab tests within accepted time targets, and the around-the-clock availability of neurologists. Surveyors also examined quality assessment and performance improvement initiatives and education of physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and EMS personnel.

The hospital's own "Code Stroke" program, implemented in July, was a major part of the DPH on-site review. When a South Shore Hospital physician initiates a "Code Stroke," multiple hospital clinicians are automatically mobilized to speed evaluation, diagnosis and treatment options for patients who may be experiencing a stroke. A board-certified neurologist evaluates each patient and determines if there is a need for fibrinolytic ("clot-busting") drug therapy, which has proven to be most effective when given within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Since its launch, 34 "Code Stroke" patients have been cared for, a number greater than the anticipated 1-2 per month.

South Shore Hospital's stroke program is under the medical direction of neurologist Colin McDonald, MD. He is one of 10 board-certified neurologists on the hospital's medical staff.

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