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Oct. 26, 2018 - USA Health’s University Hospital recognized in U.S. News & World Reports

MOBILE, Ala. (Oct. 10, 2018) -- University Hospital, formerly USA Medical Center and part of USA Health, has been awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association’s (ASA) top honors for quality stroke and heart failure care in 2018. The hospital was recognized in a recent issue of U.S. News & World Reports for the honors.

“The awards serve as an example of our hospital’s commitment to improving patient outcomes,” said Sam Dean, University Hospital Administrator. “Our stroke and heart failure teams set an outstanding example of how our dedicated physicians and employees work every day to help people lead longer, better lives.”

The heart failure care team University Hospital was awarded the American Heart Association's top honors, a recognition that was published in U.S. News & World Report.

Get With the Guidelines (GWTG) – both for heart failure and stroke - was developed to help healthcare professionals align heart failure and stroke care with the most up-to-date scientific treatment guidelines, which include aggressive therapies that medications. Hospitals must follow these measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for achievement awards.

University Hospital was the first hospital in Alabama to earn the coveted Get With The Guidelines Gold Plus Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Performance Quality Achievement Award from the ASA/AHA, first offered in 2016. This is the highest achievable level of award available, and UH is now the first Alabama hospital to receive the award for two consecutive years (2016 & 2017). The hospital has received the gold level award each year since 2008.

University Hospital's stroke care team was recognized for top quality care by the American Stroke Association, a recognition that was published in U.S. News & World Report.

“The value of this recognition is not as much in getting the awards as much as it is in what we do to get this recognition,” said Assistant Director of Quality Management Beth Leffard. “We’ve been participating in American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines for both stroke and heart failure for many years.

“By continuing to achieve awards like these, it shows that we’ve been at a higher level of patient care as opposed to the AHA’s basic recognitions. The more consistency we maintain in what we’re doing, the higher level of quality of care we’re providing stroke and heart failure patients.”

See the report and findings for UH and other U.S. hospitals in U.S. News and World Report.

This recognition carries a two-fold reward.

“First, for the patient, it means we’re consistently providing evidence-based care so that they can have the best possible outcome,” said Stroke Certification Coordinator Shelia Ross. “It also shows our community that we’re validated by the AHA and provide top-level treatment.”

Even though strokes have dropped from the third-leading cause of death to the fifth in the U.S., Ross says people are still having strokes, because of poor diet, stress, smoking and other risk factors; they’re living better afterward, however, because of the attention to detail and urgent processes now in place from the moment a stroke patient enters the hospital to being discharged after treatment.

“That’s what the guidelines are all about – to affect outcomes.”

Not only does Ross maintain detailed records of patient outcomes for reporting and analysis, but daily she works with different hospital departments to ensure that stroke patients get the right medications and treatment plans. All of this is focused on reducing the patients’ length of stay and minimizing 30-day readmission rates -- or, getting them back to life as normal.

Her work doesn’t stop at the bedside, however. Half of the battle against strokes is population education. 

Ross spends much time educating Mobile area church groups, civic groups, schools and guests at health-related events about stroke prevention as well as symptom awareness and importance of quick hospitalization.  Depending on what population you’re speaking to, your educational talks could differ, Ross said.

“We are seeing younger and younger stroke survivors,” Ross said. “Young populations are getting chronic disease earlier. Stroke does not recognize race, gender or age.” It can happen to anyone at any time, Ross said.

“People used to think you had to have a stroke symptom in every category – but any kind of symptom now means you go to the hospital.”

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