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24/7 facility, with two CT scanners, is fully certified for stroke care

BUFFALO, NY April 30, 2009 - New York State  approved Erie County Medical Center as only the region's fifth Designated Stroke Center, a medical, financial and patient benefit in a county that has the most stroke deaths statewide.

The medical center's application for the stroke designation listed benefits already realized for stroke patients receiving care at ECMC, and projected others, including: improved efficiency of patient care; faster evaluation and treatment of acute stroke patients leading to better outcomes; improved patient treatment times; better patient outcomes due to appropriate protocols and guidelines; fewer stroke-related complications; decreased patient length of stay; higher patient survival rates; improved long-term outcomes; services to reduce patient disability; and increased patient satisfaction.  Additionally, ECMC's stroke program will continue to work closely with the Stroke Center at Millard Fillmore Gates for patients that require alternative stroke care.

Cost savings to ECMC and the Western New York community will also result from reduced patient lengths of stay and initiation of treatments for secondary prevention, reducing the risk of future hospital admissions. Since Erie County has more stroke deaths than any other county in New York State, this program is particularly needed in this region. 

"ECMC and its stroke team are justifiably proud of this designation," said ECMC CEO Jody L. Lomeo. "What's especially positive is that ECMC and the Western New York community need not expend additional funds to meet the requirements for the stroke center designation, since ECMC already has the medical staff, radiological equipment, and surgical team to implement this program. This is purely for the patients' benefit."

The state Health Commissioner established Designated Stroke Centers statewide to improve treatment standards and access to high-quality care for patients with a presumptive diagnosis of stroke.

Other designated stroke hospitals in Erie County are Kenmore Mercy, South Buffalo Mercy, Millard Fillmore, Gates Circle and Sisters of Charity hospitals. Statewide, there are 114 other hospitals with the designation, out of 289 total hospitals.

This is the second elite medical designation for ECMC in recent weeks, having announced last month it received the Society of Chest Pain Centers' national accreditation as a Chest Pain Center with a percutaneous cardiac intervention (PCI) designation, just the fifth such hospital in New York State. ECMC became the 250th accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI designation in the nation, out of 5,759 hospitals.

On Dec. 11, 2008, the State Hospital Review and Planning Council of the Health Department informed ECMC officials that the application for ECMC to become a Designated Stroke Center was initially approved, pending a site review and some final steps in the process to be conducted by the DOH over the next few months. 

In 1995, Dr. Michael A. Meyer, chief of Neurology and Stroke Services at ECMC, co-authored a landmark paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine on a new and aggressive approach to acute stroke that utilized a clot-busting medication, tPA, drawing attention to ECMC's expertise.

"I am very pleased to see that the Health Department adopted the recommendations from this important study," said Dr. Meyer, who is also Professor of Clinical Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine. "In so doing, the Health Department is taking a strong role in developing a statewide program for acute stroke."

"I am also pleased that the state approved ECMC's application as a Designated Stroke Center. As a 24/7 Adult Regional Trauma Center, ECMC has already been caring for many patients requiring stroke care."

The ECMC 24/7 Stroke Team includes physicians from multiple specialties. Qualified Emergency Department physicians, having received training and certification to perform National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale evaluations, are members of the acute stroke team. Constant stroke patient medical coverage is provided by neurology residents and staff at ECMC. Stroke Program Coordinator Paula Quesinberry, RN, oversees patient care services and community education. 

ECMC also operates an out-patient neurology clinic for stroke-related evaluations. 

The ECMC facility is already well equipped to provide stroke evaluation and care. Immediately adjacent to the large 29-bed ECMC Emergency Department, equipped for urgent care, is a 64-slice digital imaging scanner for rapid CT angiography of the brain and neck vessels. 

With the recent installation and utilization of a second 64-slice digital imaging scanner, ECMC has the ability to evaluate and treat stroke patients in an optimal setting.   

ECMC is able to acquire enhanced images from the 64-slice scanners to assemble and render complete three-dimensional images of arteries and veins of the brain that can be interactively rotated for viewing from any virtual vantage point. 

In addition to applications to evaluate stroke patients, the two 64-slice scanners are also available continuously for high throughput trauma and cardiac imaging.

 "The ECMC Stroke Team is unique in its routine use of interactive, three-dimensional image processing for not only CT, but also MRI images. These can enhance diagnosis and subsequent treatment planning for patients with stroke-related problems," Dr. Meyer said.  


The ECMC Corporation includes an advanced academic medical center (ECMC) with 550 inpatient beds and 136 skilled-nursing-home beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 40 outpatient specialty care clinics and the Erie County Home, a skilled nursing facility. ECMC is the regional center for trauma, burn care, rehabilitation and is a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university. More Western New York residents are choosing ECMC for exceptional patient care and customer service provided as a result of its Culture of Care. 


NEWS CONTACT: Tom Quatroche at 716-898-5503 or tquatroc@ecmc.edu; or Joe Cirillo at 716-898-4300 or jcirillo@ecmc.edu

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