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Stroke Care Awards Mean Faster Patient Care at GMC


Photo: GMC Nurses Kim Smith, Becky Weidler and Cheryl MacMillian, who all work in the emergency departments, review tPA supplies with Susan Gaunt, GMC’s Stroke Program Coordinator/Clinical Nurse Specialist. The emergency and neuroscience departments work closely together at GMC to provide stroke patients with critical care.

Gwinnett Medical Center has received two awards from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The Get with The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award recognizes GMC’s commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients, according to evidence-based guidelines. The Target Stroke Award, recognizes an even higher level of care, one achieved by only ten hospitals in Georgia. For Lois Stokes, having this level of stroke care at GMC, may have saved her life.

Stokes, a surgical scrub technician at Gwinnett Medical Center-Lawrenceville, suffered a stroke while at work. Recognizing that the numbness in her left leg wasn’t normal, she asked a fellow nurse to check her face for signs of stroke. “I must have passed out then,” said Stokes. Later when she regained consciousness, she was in the emergency department.

Because the guidelines and procedures to identify, classify and treat stroke were in place, Stokes was able to receive treatment with tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, within the 60-minute window recommended for its use. As the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the urgent treatment of ischemic stroke, tPA has been shown to significantly reverse the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability.

Stokes’ journey to recovery started first with recognizing that she was having a stroke and continued with the fast actions of her colleagues. However, the processes, guidelines and procedures for stroke care that she received at the Center for Neuroscience and Glancy Rehabilitation Center, helped her regain her life. 

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States.  On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. With a stroke, time lost is brain lost.

Achieving the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award recognizes commitment to meeting the highest standards of care for people suffering stroke. GMC first achieved this award in 2010, and was recently awarded it again for 2012. The Target Stroke Award means GMC reached the goal of providing tPA to more than 50% of patients who could benefit within 60 minutes of their arrival at the hospital.

“Gwinnett Medical Center is to be commended for its commitment to implementing standards of care and protocols for treating stroke patients,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., 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. “The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients.”

Among the measures of quality of care are: aggressive use of medications, such as antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.          

About Gwinnett Medical Center
Gwinnett Medical Center is a nationally-recognized, not-for-profit healthcare network with acute-care hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth. Offering cardiovascular, orthopedic and neuroscience specialty care as well as a full continuum of wellness services, GMC’s 4,500 associates and 800 affiliated physicians serve more than 400,000 patients annually. To learn more about how GMC is transforming healthcare, visit or follow us at, or