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Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center Re-Certified by Joint Commission 

Madison, Wis. – The Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center continues to raise the bar when it comes to identifying and treating the third most common cause of death.  After meticulously examining the ins and outs of its stroke care and doing everything possible to improve upon already great patient outcomes, the Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center has received a two year re-certification by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. 

The center was South Central Wisconsin’s only program of its kind when it first received the distinction in 2007.  It earned this recognition after the Joint Commission conducted an unannounced on-site review to make sure the rigorous protocols were being followed.

This time around, the Joint Commission examiners congratulated the Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center on the addition of new interventional radiology capabilities, including the MERCI®  Retriever System.

The Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center is one of just seven hospitals in the state that offers this additional treatment option.  A long, thin catheter is inserted into the groin and guided up to the area of the brain where the stroke is occurring.  Using X-ray technology, an interventional radiologist watches as the catheter approaches the clot.  Like a sewing needle, the sharp tip passes through the clot, then turns into what looks like a coiled pig’s tail and is used to physically remove the clot from the body.

This particular treatment option is available only to stroke patients who have a complete blockage to one of the three main arteries leading into the brain.  Typically, these patients have just a 20 percent chance of survival with this type of stroke.  The MERCI® Retriever gives medical staff up to a 12-hour window to remove the clot and gives the patient a better chance of recovery.

“It’s very exciting and we’re optimistic,” says Charles Miley, MD, medical director of the Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center.  “These are patients who have massive strokes and will not do well if we can’t do something.  It definitely gives them a good fighting chance to reverse it.” 

“We see a lot of strokes – about 450 per year – and there are a lot of people we’re able to help with the three treatments we have,” says Jo Goffinet, RN, MS, coordinator of the Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center.  “The MERCI® Retriever treatment is just another tool in our belt that we didn’t have in the past and are proud to offer.”

Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. On average, someone suffers a stroke ever 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today.

“We can continue to add treatment options for stroke, but the most important thing is for people to learn and recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and get to the hospital quickly.  Depending on the type of stroke occurring, our treatment window is now up to 12 hours, but the earlier someone can get in, the greater their chance of recovery,” says Dr. Miley.  “And one more thing – you can’t be too young to have a stroke.  If you’re experiencing numbness on one side of your body, difficulty seeing, walking or talking call 911 immediately.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association’s guidelines for stroke care. The Joint Commission launched the program—the nation’s first—in 2003. A list of programs certified by the Joint Commission is available at http://www.jointcommission.org/CertificationPrograms/PrimaryStrokeCenters/.  For more information on St. Mary's certification, visit: http://www.qualitycheck.org/qualityreport.aspx?hcoid=7655&x=cert.


Additional Stroke Facts 

  • One person has a stroke in the U.S. every 45 seconds
  • Stroke is the number three killer in the U.S.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability
  • 14% of people who survive a stroke have another one within a year


Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

  • Watch your blood pressure
  • Quit smoking
  • Watch your weight
  • Exercise 30 minutes a day almost every day of the week
  • Keep diabetes under control
  • If your family has had strokes you’re at increased risk

 Mini-Strokes: Major Problems

TIA stands for transient ischemic attack. It’s also known as a “mini” stroke or a warning stroke.  In a TIA, there is a temporary obstruction in a blood vessel which produces the typical warning signs of a stroke.  Unlike a stroke, however, the obstruction does not remain in place and blood flow returns.  While this may seem like a good thing, TIAs are often the red flags for a major stroke and those with these symptoms (slight numbness, slurred speech, difficulty seeing and a prolonged headache) should seek medical attention.

 Call 911 Immediately If You Have:

  • Sudden numbness in your face, leg, arm or one side of your body
  • Trouble speaking, understanding or are confused
  • Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking
  • A sudden, severe headache without a known cause


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