Press Releases

Press Releases

Harrison's stroke program recognized for outstanding care - 1/4/2012

Program dedicated to positive outcomes for stroke patients

Bremerton, WA
–A stroke is a medical emergency. It happens when a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked by a clot, or bursts. If the flow of blood is interrupted for more than a few seconds, then brain cells can die and cause permanent damage.

Together, heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death in Washington. Genetic history and lifestyle factors contribute to your risk for stroke, and yet anyone can have a stroke. Harrison Medical Center treats over 650 stroke patients each year and with regional and state-level healthcare partners, has a specific action plan featuring critical elements proven to foster effective treatment and recovery.

Harrison’s coordinated approach to stroke care recently earned the Medical Center the American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Bronze Performance Achievement Award. The award recognizes Harrison’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

“We commend Harrison for its success in implementing standards of care and protocols,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chair of the national Get With the Guidelines Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “These care standards as well as education help prevent recurrent stroke and are critical steps in saving lives and improving outcomes for stroke patients.”

“With a stroke, time lost is brain lost. The first hour after stroke symptoms start is critical,” said Dr. Robert Rubenstein, Harrison’s Stroke Program Co-Medical Director. “Our goal is to treat patients within that ‘golden hour’ to help ensure the best outcomes so we can reduce or even reverse the effects of a stroke.”

Christine Wayman, RN, MSN, Harrison’s Stroke Coordinator, works with the Medical Center’s Stroke Committee and the Hospital’s Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Robert Rubenstein, Neurology and Dr. Adeel Seyal, Internal Medicine, to further Harrison’s Stroke Program. Nurses caring for patients on the Stroke Unit at Harrison are specially trained to assess, implement and evaluate care to meet the individual needs of each patient, with adherence to nationally recognized standards of practice that are shown to promote positive patient outcomes.

“This award reflects Harrison’s partnerships that ensure exceptional stroke care in our community,” said Scott Bosch, Chief Executive Officer. “As the region’s largest acute medical care facility, it is both our responsibility and our privilege to care for our friends, neighbors, and family in the West Sound and North Peninsula.”

After a stroke, education of the patient and family helps prevent recurrence. Harrison’s stroke team is adept at seizing opportunities for ‘teachable moments’ after a stroke, when patients and their loved ones are more receptive to education and help. Studies show that patients who learn how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second stroke.


A coordinated response

A key element in Harrison’s stroke care response plan is coordination with Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers in the region. In collaboration with the EMS , Harrison Medical Center has developed a system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This includes notice from the EMS crew when a patient is being transported to the hospital and a team approach to providing rapid brain imaging scans to diagnose and make treatment decisions.

“Every moment counts,” said Ms. Wayman. “If we are prepared to intervene the moment the patient comes through our doors, we can foster better outcomes for our patients.”

Level II Stroke Center

Another key element in stroke care is a coordinated approach to diagnosing and treating stroke patients. As part of the Washington State Emergency Cardiac and Stroke (ECS) system, Harrison has been designated as a Level II Stroke Center by the Washington State Department of Health. Harrison works closely with our EMS partners to promote effective and rapid response and treatment of patients in our region.

“This system is based on the principles of getting the right patient, to the right place, in the right amount of time, said Dr. Seyal. “If we approach stroke care with these principles in mind, we can save lives and reduce disability. It’s all about providing exceptional care right in our own community.”

The goal of the WA State ECS system is to improve emergency response and treatment for acute coronary syndrome, cardiac arrest, and stroke patients, reducing time to treatment and getting patients into a dedicated system of comprehensive care.

Collaboration and treatment close by

Harrison also partners with Harborview Medical Center’s Telestroke Program to allow 24/7 consultation with a vascular neurologist and access to University of Washington stroke experts. Along with real-time consultation, the organizations share education and research as well as evidence-based clinical protocols and practice guidelines to ensure constant innovation in care.

Learn the FIVE signs of a stroke:

1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

5. Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If you or anyone you know is having any of these symptoms—CALL 911!

Stroke Facts

  • According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting nearly a million people a year.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability for Americans.
  • On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds.
  • Someone dies of complications from a stroke about every four minutes.
  • Most strokes are caused by a blood clot in the brain and area called Ischemic strokes.

Harrison Medical Center is a not-for-profit hospital offering medical, surgical, and emergency services at five locations—Bremerton, Silverdale, Port Orchard, Belfair, and Poulsbo—to serve the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. To learn about Harrison’s many healthcare services, call 866-844-WELL or visit

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