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Friday, March 21, 2008 - SJH Regional Medical Center Earns Primary Stroke Center Designation

VINELAND, NJ (March 21) – The South Jersey Healthcare Regional Medical Center in Vineland is the first hospital in Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Cape May counties to be certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS). This designation, which was awarded to the hospital on Tuesday, is based upon the Regional Medical Center’s advanced capabilities and protocols for the rapid and effective diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our hospital,” said Elizabeth Sheridan, chief operating officer of the SJH Regional Medical Center. “To be one of the first in the region to obtain this designation speaks to our vision to be a leader in providing evidence-based care to our patients. It all comes down to the commitment to provide the best outcomes for our patients.”

The designation was given as the result of a new licensure program coordinated by the NJDHSS to address the public health need for acute care hospitals to ensure the rapid triage, diagnostic evaluation and treatment of stroke patients. By designating hospitals who meet specific criteria as Primary Stroke Centers, the state hopes to increase survival rates and decrease the disabilities associated with stroke.

Primary stroke centers like the Regional Medical Center evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency care to patients with acute stroke and then, depending on the patient's needs and the center's capabilities, either admit the patient and provide inpatient care or transfer the patient to a comprehensive stroke center.

To be granted Primary Stroke Center status, SJH Regional Medical Center had to meet several criteria including:

Having a specially-trained, multi-disciplinary acute stroke team available around the clock, ready to see patients within 15 minutes;
Being staffed by physicians and nurses with advanced training in stroke care;
Always being equipped to provide brain imaging scans;
Providing rehabilitation services for stroke patients;
And offering community education about the risk factors and early symptoms of stroke.

SJH Earns Primary Stroke Center Designation…Page 2

Quick diagnosis and treatment are critical for minimizing a stroke’s effects, which can include paralysis, slurred speech and cognitive impairment. The SJH Regional Medical Center has furthered enhanced the ability of their ER staff to provide rapid treatment for stroke patients with a new technology called teleneurology. The innovative audio and visual communications system connects emergency ER department staff with board-certified neurologists, 24/7, allowing them to provide rapid stroke diagnosis at a moment’s notice.

Using a high-resolution television monitor and video camera in both locations, the ER physician and off-site neurologist evaluate stroke patients’ signs, symptoms and medical histories to plan a course of action. Often, the physicians will assess whether the patient is a candidate for thrombolytic therapy with t-PA medication, a drug that helps dissolve blood clots that cause ischemic strokes — the most common type of stroke.

“Our patients are receiving the standard of care for acute stroke as outlined by state and national authorities,” said Scott Burlingame, SJH Stroke Program manager. “Stroke care has reached a new level here and our patients are definitely benefiting from our commitment to providing the best possible care in a community setting. We will continue to refine our processes to ensure that we are doing everything we can to bring about the best possible outcomes.”
Nearly 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. People can help to increase the survival rate of stroke patients and minimize possible disabilities caused by stroke by familiarizing themselves with these warning signs:
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you believe someone is suffering from a stroke, call 911 immediately.

Primary Stroke Center designation is one of several national and state honors SJH has received in the last year. Recently, the health system received Magnet Recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, an Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer for its Cancer Program, and the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™ for meeting national standards for health care quality and safety.

South Jersey Healthcare (SJH) is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of Southern New Jersey residents.