Community Healthcare System’s Comprehensive Stroke Center

Community Healthcare System’s Comprehensive Stroke Center
By: Mandy Haack Last Updated: September 24, 2019

Over the past several months, the scope of care has broadened within the hospitals of Community Healthcare System and in Northwest Indiana as a whole. This past April, Community Hospital received certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center representing a significant step forward for the delivery of the highest level of timely, complex care previously unavailable in the Region. 

The Center will serve as a hub for all other Northwest Indiana primary stroke centers including St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart. It will provide an elevated level of medical and surgical care to patients with complex cases of stroke. 

The Comprehensive Stroke Certification for Community Hospital is a crucial installment for local patients such as Brainard Artis, who went to the emergency department at St. Catherine Hospital with symptoms. He quickly was evaluated with TeleStroke technology and administered tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a blood thinner used in patients with strokes caused by blood clots. Artis then was admitted to Community Hospital for intricate brain surgery to remove the clot.

“TeleStroke allows a Community Hospital vascular neurologist in Munster to speak face-to-face with patients, neurologists and clinicians present in the emergency room at another location,” said Alan Kumar, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Community Healthcare System. “The assessment helps the emergency department team quickly determine if the patient is an appropriate candidate for tPA, which can save lives or reduce the long-term effects of stroke.”

According to Community Hospital, 85 percent of all strokes are caused by an obstruction within a vessel supplying blood to the brain. Research shows that the most effective treatment to remove a blockage is timely intervention.  However, Indiana is one of the lowest-performing states as it pertains to stroke treatment and “door-to-needle times,” which means the time it takes to receive stroke intervention compared to when the patient entered the emergency department.

As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, Community Hospital is focusing on improved access to treatment and “door-to-needle times” in Northwest Indiana, as well as more immediate access to complex neurosurgical treatment as necessary. 

With TeleStroke, the neurologist and emergency room clinical staff determine a plan of care and treatment to be initiated by the emergency physician. They’ll then assess if the patient will need a higher level of care within minutes. If a higher level of care is needed, they are transferred to the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Community Hospital, where advanced stroke and neurosurgical teams prepare for surgical interventions.

“As a comprehensive stroke center working with the primary stroke centers throughout Northwest Indiana, we can ensure that more advanced procedures are available locally for acute ischemic stroke care, such as intra-arterial tPA and mechanical thrombectomy,” said neuroendovascular surgeon Demetrius Lopes, MD, on staff at Community Hospital. “TeleStroke medicine helps us continue to deliver an advanced level of care at a time when it is needed most by our community.”

The Comprehensive Stroke Center designation at Community Hospital is a significant step forward in the delivery of timely, complex care previously unavailable in Northwest Indiana.

Discover more about stroke care at www.COMHS.org/stroke.