Research Medical Center
August 10, 2010

Award demonstrates hospital's commitment to quality care for stroke patients like Dale Flanagan.

Gold Plus stroke care at Research Medical CenterKansas City, MO – Life irrevocably changed for Dale Flanagan, a 71-year-old Kansas City resident, when he experienced a stroke in early spring.  Flanagan was on the job with a co-worker one morning in April when suddenly his hand became immobile, along with other disturbing physical symptoms. 

“I couldn’t write, move my right side or talk,” recalls Flanagan.  “I was aware that something was terribly wrong.”

Flanagan’s colleague quickly placed a 9-1-1 call, and paramedics arrived within minutes.  Flanagan, who says for a split second he recovered feeling in the right side of his body, was taken to Research Medical Center and wheeled into the ER, where the stroke team immediately went into action.

Flanagan was having a stroke, and time was of the essence.  Consulting neurologist at Research Medical Center, Iftekhar Ahmed, MD, recommended that Flanagan receive tPA, a drug that, when administered within three hours of having a stroke, can help break up blood clots that cause stroke.  Dr. Ahmed, the medical director of Midwest Stroke Care at Research Medical Center, was recognized recently by an international society of neurologists in Nice, France, for his work with hundreds of stroke patients.

Flanagan’s wife, Deanne, arrived at Research Medical Center and signed a permission slip authorizing Dr. Ahmed to give her husband tPA.  Within an hour, Flanagan was talking and able to move his right leg and arm.  Once Flanagan was stabilized, Dr. Ahmed ordered a battery of tests for his patient.  He discovered a severe blockage in Flanagan’s carotid artery and called in Joe Cates, MD, a Kansas City Vascular and General Surgery surgeon at Research Medical Center.  Dr. Cates operated on Flanagan and showed him the substance that was blocking his artery.  That visual made an impact on Flanagan, who immediately vowed to practice healthy eating and exercise. 

Research Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, recently received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award. This award recognizes the hospital’s commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients—such as Dale Flanagan—according to evidence-based guidelines.

Get With The Guidelines–Stroke advocates that doctors and hospitals provide “teachable moments” to patients soon after a stroke, when they are most likely to listen to and follow their healthcare professionals’ guidance.  Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke.

Research Medical Center achieved 85 percent or higher adherence to all the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Performance Achievement Indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month intervals and 75 percent or higher compliance with six of 10 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality Measures, which are reporting initiatives to measure quality of care.  These measures include aggressive use of medications, such as tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

“When someone is having a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the Get With The Guidelines–Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award demonstrates Research Medical Center’s commitment to being one of the top hospitals in the country for providing aggressive, proven stroke care,” says Kevin J. Hicks, chief executive officer of Research Medical Center. “We will continue with our model on providing stroke care, which has been shown in scientific literature to quickly and efficiently treat stroke patients like Dale Flanagan.”

Flanagan plans to lose another 25 pounds, maintain his ideal weight and make his friends and family aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. “There’s a lot I still want to do in life,” says Flanagan.

“Research Medical Center is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients,” says Lee H. Schwamm, MD, chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  “The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients.”