In just 1 ½ years, LVMC has treated more than 80 patients through a specialized program known as “Code Stroke.”
Code Stroke began at LVMC early in 2016, after months of planning and training to earn the designation as an “Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.”
Now, the program has earned national recognition. LVMC was notified this month that it has been named the winner of the Community Impact Award from Intalere Healthcare.
Lompoc Valley Medical Center was the only hospital in California to receive an award, and one of only three on the West Coast to be recognized.
Intalere, the healthcare industry leader in delivering optimal cost, quality, and clinical outcomes, recognized the acute hospital in it 9th annual awards program, which recognizes members who have implemented transformational initiatives to enhance their operations through process improvements.
“Intalere members are successfully creating incremental value and greater operational efficiencies through constant innovation and transfer of best practices,” said Julius Heil, Intalere president, and CEO. “We are honored to recognize our members for their accomplishments, and believe that through collaboration and engagement, we can positively impact healthcare delivery for the future,” he said.
Four hospitals from across the nation were recognized for Community Impact or Innovation. In addition to Lompoc Valley Medical Center, the other winners were Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wis.; Livingston Healthcare in Livingston, Mont., and the Community at Brookmeade in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
The honor, according to the organization, came because LVMC was able to address a pressing medical issue in Lompoc – that there is no neurologist available around the clock.
With stroke among the leading causes of death in Santa Barbara County, addressing that lack of neurologist became a critical need.
Patients displaying signs of stroke were routinely transferred out of town to larger hospitals with more advanced treatment capabilities. The need to transfer could delay potential life-saving care and would force the patient’s support network to travel to be near the patient.
Code Stroke is a collaboration with Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and includes the use of round-the-clock teleneurology access via the use of an InTouch Health computerized mobile robot.
Now at the hospital, “Code Stroke” is activated if a patient is found to have a new onset of at least one of five symptoms in the previous six hours, including sudden, severe headache with unknown cause or sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, among others.
The ability to use the robot for a quick consultation with specialists can lead to faster diagnosis and treatment for patients, and ultimately better outcomes for patients, according to Assistant Nurse Executive Yvette Cope, who coordinates the project.
When a potential stroke patient arrives in the Emergency Department, the attending physician and medical staff order lab tests and a CT scan to determine the best course of treatment. Once a Code Stroke call is initiated, the robot disengages from its electric docking station in the ED and glides to the treatment room, allowing an interface between the patient, on-site medical staff, and a neurologist.
With the program in place, LVMC has been able to meet its goal of fewer than 60 minutes for door-to-needle time for the administration of a medicine called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, which may be used for some stroke patients.
“Not only has this new system allowed for more timely administration of thrombolytics, but in most cases, patients are able to remain at the hospital and in their own community for recovery,” according to the Intalere recognition.
According to Cope, the hospital has had 86 Code Stroke calls since Jan. 1, 2016. Of those, nine were canceled at some point in the process.
“The Code Stroke program prevented 35 patients who arrived by ambulance from being transferred out of the area,” Cope said. “In all, 28 patients were admitted and 30 were transferred. Prior to the Code Stroke program, the patients who were admitted to LVMC would have been transferred.”
LVMC will send two registered nurses to Intalere’s “Elevate 2017” banquet in Florida in May.
There were also three winners of the Financial and Operational Improvement Award; three winners of the Quality/Patient Care Delivery and/or Patient Satisfaction award and three winners in the Supply Chain/Data Management or Supply Cost Efficiencies category.