The stroke unit at Port Macquarie Base Hospital has been recognised with a prestigious World Stroke Organization Angels Gold Status Award for meeting the highest standards in stroke treatment and care.
The Angels initiative, a partnership between the World Stroke Organization, European Stroke Organisation and Boehringer Ingelheim, aims to optimise the standard of treatment in stroke centres worldwide and improve patient outcomes by setting global benchmarks for best practice stroke care.
This high-profile award has been facilitated in Australia by the Australian Stroke Coalition (ASC) and was open to hospitals contributing data to the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry and Stroke Foundation National Stroke Audit.
Thirteen hospitals, including Port Macquarie Base Macquarie Hospital have also been named as Excellence Award winners in the 2021 Australian Stroke Coalition (ASC) Quality Stroke Service Awards.
The Awards, announced at the 30th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Stroke Society of Australasia, recognise Australia's top hospitals in delivery of quality, evidence-based stroke treatment and care.
Excellence is measured by hospitals that achieve nine best-practice stroke treatment and care benchmarks, including treatment with thrombolysis (blood clot-dissolving treatment) within 60 minutes of hospital arrival, the provision of stroke unit care, and the provision of a care plan at time of discharge from hospital.
Port Macquarie Base Hospital's Head of Division of Medicine and Stroke Physician Lead, Dr Matthew Kinchington said achieving WSO Gold Status was a great honour and testament to a team effort to enhance stroke care in the local area.
"Stroke is a time-critical medical emergency where blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced," Dr Kinchington said. "With each minute that goes by more brain cells can be lost and the risk of disability and death increases.
"Acting swiftly on the signs of stroke and implementing best practice care requires coordination between ambulance, emergency department, radiology and stroke unit staff."
Port Macquarie Base Hospital treats approximately 290 strokes each year.
Training, protocols and the performance of the hospital's stroke unit were assessed as part of the Angels Initiative, which includes a target of restoring blood-flow to the brain to more than half of eligible patients within 60 minutes of their hospital arrival.
"Ensuring appropriate patients receive clot busting therapy within 60 minutes of arriving at the hospital door is the gold standard and means that more people will survive and live well after stroke," Dr Kinchington said.
"In regional Australia, we have higher rates of stroke and contend with the challenge of providing access to treatment and care over significant distances."
A major report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the Stroke Foundation, highlights that people living in regional Australia are 17 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those living in metropolitan areas.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, and ASC Co-chair, Sharon McGowan said that despite the challenges faced by hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic it was "fantastic to see Port Macquarie Base Hospital among nine Australian hospitals meeting international benchmarks in stroke care".
"National and international benchmarking is critically important to improving the quality of stroke care and reducing variations in practice between hospitals," she said. "By implementing new protocols and technologies, stroke units are stepping up response times and improving outcomes for their patients."
To achieve WSO Gold Status a hospital must demonstrate a range of outcomes, including optimum time to treatment, coordinated care, appropriate scans and screening, and ensuring patients are discharged from hospital on medications to minimise the risk of further stroke.
Stroke Society of Australasia President, and ASC Co-chair, Professor Bernard Yan said there were approximately 38,000 stroke events across Australia each year - around 100 every day.
"Recording stroke treatment data is a great way to ensure stroke units are meeting best practice standards, while also providing a 'big picture' view of stroke care in our country and pinpointing areas for improvement," he said.
"The hospitals that have received WSO Angels Gold status accreditation should be justifiably proud, as should the communities they serve."
WSO Angels Award recipients for 2021 were announced at the Stroke Society of Australia annual scientific meeting on October 15.
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