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Working Together to Provide Stroke Education and Improve Stroke Care in Our Community

Working Together to Provide Stroke Education and Improve Stroke Care in Our Community Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Education can lead to quick action to reduce or even prevent the damage caused by stroke.

In 2009, RMH began the journey toward achieving primary stroke center certification by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. This certification ensures that a healthcare facility is providing exceptional, evidence-based care for patients in their community who experience a stroke.

One of the requirements for obtaining the certification was staff and community education. RMH clinical educator Cristy Long, R.N., along with two other RMH clinical educators, was assigned the job of developing the curriculum to educate the nursing staff at RMH on strokes. Long's nursing unit also was selected to become the Certified Stroke Unit at RMH.

As part of Long's work toward her master's degree in clinical education from JMU, she engaged her expert contacts at JMU to help develop the educational program. In three of her classes in 2010, she worked on different aspects of stroke education. In Dr. Linda Hulton's class, she performed evidence-based research regarding the need for a stroke center. In Dr. Patty Hale's class, she developed the needs assessment and class curriculum to educate staff, and in Dr. Judith Rocchiccioli's class, she developed the community education program, which she later used as her practicum.

"My classes and my instructors were very valuable resources," Long said. To date, over 250 RMH nurses have become NIH Stroke Certified. Long and other nurses also performed education in the community on the risk factors of stroke, signs and symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 911 for immediate medical attention.

A goal for the RMH stroke team in 2011 was to design an educational conference for staff and the community. The team collaborated with the JMU Nursing Program to provide an educational opportunity for RMH professional staff, area nursing students and EMS providers.

A team of RMH and JMU representatives planned the conference. The team included Cristy Long, stroke unit clinical educator; Phyllis Anderson, CCU clinical educator; Carlissa Blosser, ED clinical educator; Hilda Taylor, JMU Nursing Dept.; Vicki Martin, JMU Nursing Department; and Janet Marshman, RMH Stroke Coordinator. Emily Akerson, associate director, Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services, and affiliate faculty, Department of Nursing, was instrumental in providing support and resources for the conference.

On Oct. 5th, 2011, the conference, "Because One Stroke is Enough: Stroke Conference for Healthcare Professionals," was offered with the support of the collaboration between RMH and JMU Nursing Program. Speakers included Dan Chehebar, D.O., RMH neurologist and medical director of the stroke program at RMH, The RMH stroke team includes, front from left, Stroke Medical Director Dr. Dan Chehebar, Neurology; Carlissa Blosser, RN, Education; Cristy Long, RN, Education; Stroke Coordinator Janet Marshman, RN, Quality and Patient Safety; Channing Fox, Decision Support; and back from left, Judy Jenkins, Rehab Services; Pam Wilkins, Pharmacy; Helen Simmons, RN, Heart and Vascular; and Phyllis Anderson, RN, Education. along with JMU professors and outside experts in the field of stroke. More than 100 clinicians, students and EMS professionals attended the day-long conference. Three different tracks were offered to pull a broad cross-section of the community: one for nursing and nursing students; one designed for EMS providers, and one for rehabilitation professionals.

A highlight of the conference was having a community stroke survivor and a JMU student who was a stroke survivor talk about their experiences in a personal way.

In mid-March 2012, RMH was surveyed by representatives of the Joint Commission and, within 24 hours, received notification that it had been designated as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center