Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City Earns Nation’s Highest Accreditation for Stroke Treatment

August 31, 2021

The stroke team at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City has once again earned Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers from The Joint Commission – the nation’s oldest and largest accrediting body in health care. It is the highest level of stroke certification awarded only to hospitals able to treat the most complex cases of stroke through detection, treatment and rehabilitation.

Mercy was the first center in Oklahoma to earn advanced certification when the two-year certification was established in 2012.

To maintain certification, Mercy underwent a demanding application process and rigorous review by commission experts. Eligibility standards include advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments and staff with the unique education and competencies.

“In stroke care, we say, ‘time is brain’ and that simply means it’s imperative to get a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risk of death or long-term disability,” said Amber Elliott, director of neurosciences at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. “We’re proud of this re-designation but it’s the data regarding our patient outcomes that shows Mercy is the place to go for stroke care in Oklahoma.”

According to data from the American Heart Association, patients experiencing stroke symptoms received tPA, intravenous tissue plasminogen activator, eleven minutes faster at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City than any other hospital in Oklahoma, saving 20.9 million brain cells per patient. Mercy’s treatment time is also five minutes faster than the national average.

tPA is a powerful blood thinner used to treat ischemic strokes, the most common kind of stroke. The treatment must be given within three to four hours of having a stroke, making it critical to seek treatment right away.

When a patient requires a thrombectomy, a procedure performed by an interventional radiologist to dissolve the clot in the brain, Mercy’s success rate in opening the artery is 86.7% compared to the statewide average of 57%.

“Our stroke team operates like a well-oiled machine and that’s so important when it comes to providing the kind of highly-specialized care for patients who need lifesaving treatment quickly,” said Dr. Bahar Malakouti, neurohospitalist and stroke medical director at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. “So many of our patients come in at their darkest hour when they’ve lost the ability to walk or talk. We get to help them restore that function, get back to their families and do what they love. That’s really rewarding.”

At Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, a patient’s care is led by a stroke coordinator and neurologist who are available 24/7. The interdisciplinary stroke team includes clinicians from multiple departments including the emergency department, imaging, interventional radiology, therapy services, pharmacy and nurses in the intensive care and stepdown units.  

Signs & Symptoms of a Stroke

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Brain damage can begin within minutes, and quick treatment can help increase the chances of a full and meaningful recovery.

An easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of stroke is to B.E.F.A.S.T.

B = Balance - Does the person complain of sudden onset unsteadiness, dizziness or difficulty walking?

E = Eyes - Does the person complain of narrowing vision, blurred vision, seeing dark or bright spots?

F = Face - Ask the person to smile and show their teeth. Is the smile even or lop-sided?

A = Arms - Ask the person to raise both arms and hold them straight out. Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Do words sound slurred or garbled?

T = Time - Knowing the time when the person was last seen “normal” helps determine the course of treatment and improves outcomes.

Mercy Patient Spotlight
Mom with Newborn Recovers from Stroke

It was 5 a.m. on a cold morning in February when Cris Gomes’ 4-year-old son climbed into bed and woke her up. Since she was awake, she decided to get up to nurse her 3-month-old baby. She picked him up out of his bassinet and propped him up on her right side. Gomes passed out and when she woke up, she didn’t know what happened.

Read her full story.