For the fourth year in a row, Calvert Memorial Hospital has received the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for outstanding stroke care. The award – the highest level of achievement through the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines® Program – recognizes the hospital’s use of the latest treatment techniques for stroke care according to nationally accepted guidelines.

“Calvert Memorial Hospital is dedicated to making our care for stroke patients among the best in the country,” said CMH President and CEO Jim Xinis. “This recognition demonstrates that we are on the right track and we’re very proud of our team.”

Calvert Memorial, designated a Primary Stroke Center since 2008, has developed a comprehensive system for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This designation means the hospital meets or exceeds the requirements set by the state for effectively treating strokes.

“Recent studies show that patients treated in hospitals participating in the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Program receive a higher level of care and may experience better outcomes,” said Lee H. Schwann, 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. “CMH is to be commended for their commitment to improving the care of their patients.”

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the US. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of one every four minutes. Last year, 268 patients were treated at CMH for stroke symptoms, Of that number, 50 percent were women and almost a third were between the ages of 45 and 65. Statistics show that seven in 10 had high blood pressure, one-third had diabetes and half had high cholesterol.

Following Get With The Guidelines-Stroke treatment guidelines, patients are started on aggressive-risk reduction therapies including the use of medications such as tPA, which can reduce the amount of damage to the brain tissue; antithrombotics and anticoagulation therapy, along with cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation counseling.

Implementation of these evidence-based interventions is significant because they are proven to reduce complications after a stroke, as well as the chances of a subsequent stroke or heart attack. A Gold Plus Award indicates that a hospital has treated and discharged at least 85 percent of their stroke patients according to the recommended guidelines for a 12-month period.

Calvert’s multidisciplinary stroke team, which includes EMS, physicians, nurses, imaging and laboratory technicians, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists and case managers, is headed by CMH board-certified neurologist Dr. Harry Kerasidis.

“It takes the collaborative effort of every member of a stroke center to achieve the most optimal outcomes for patients with stroke,” said Dr. Kerasidis. “This is an award that we will celebrate together.”

The AHA program encourages healthcare providers to capitalize on teachable moments soon after a patient has a stroke. 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. To learn more about stroke warning signs, go to: