The designation and level is a voluntary designation for which a hospital can apply. The center designations reflect a range of hospital-based functions within the emergency medical care system and each plays a vital part in the system.
In general, Level I centers function as a comprehensive resource center within a region, for example maintaining specialized resources for the most complex patients.
Mercy Hospital St. Louis’ stroke team, available 24/7, consists of multiple specialties including neurologists, interventional radiologists, neurosurgeons, emergency medicine physicians and specially trained nurses. Mercy’s EMS partners are an extension of the team. With stroke phones on ambulances, assessment can begin before the patient arrives at the hospital allowing patients to go straight to CT, skipping the emergency room.
Using these approaches, Mercy has significantly reduced door-to-needle times within the past two years. In addition, Mercy Virtual’s telestroke program allows for remote examination of patients leading to better and faster treatment. Telestroke at Mercy Hospital St. Louis’ emergency department has further decreased door-to-needle time at night by eliminating the neurologist drive time.
The stroke team, always looking for ways to improve outcomes, is working with EMS on a pilot program to use telestroke video evaluations in ambulances during transfer.
“The faster we can treat stroke patients, the better chance they have at a full recovery,” said Dr. David Rempe, Mercy Clinic Neurology and stroke team leader. “With help from our EMS partners, we hope to continue to reduce door-to-needle times for our patients ultimately improving outcomes.”