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Now, two of its programs recently were honored with awards that illustrate commitment to quality patient care.
The Artificial Heart Program, part of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Program, recently was honored with the ABIOMED Center of Excellence Award in recognition of the team's outstanding work with the company's ventricular assist devices (VADs) and some of the best clinical outcomes in the country.
Since the program's inception five years ago, the team has implanted more than 200 VADs in an effort to keep patients alive while they await transplant. Seventy percent of patients waiting for transplant require artificial heart pumps in order to survive until a donor heart becomes available.
"Our team strives every day to save the lives of patients who have no other options, nowhere else to turn," said H. Todd Massey, M.D., director of the Artificial Heart Program and surgical director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation. "Ventricular assist devices have given us the opportunity to keep people alive and as healthy as possible prior to transplant."
Leway Chen, M.D., medical director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation, attributes the award to the teamwork that has been present since the first days of the heart failure and transplant program. Since 2001, the team has performed more than 68 heart transplants, with a 93.1 percent observed one-year survival rate, better than the 86.9 percent national survival rate.
"It is an honor to receive the first ABIOMED Center of Excellence Award, which reinforces the great work our team has done over the past five years in the areas of clinical care and research."
As a Center of Excellence, the program has access to the newest experimental devices and will continue to assist with the development of these technologies. It also serves as a training site for physicians from other medical centers learning to implant devices.
Strong Memorial's cardiac services also have been named a 2005 UnitedHealth Premium Cardiac Specialty Center by UnitedHealthcare. This quality assessment evaluates the hospital against evidence-based criteria, and the award reflects the quality and efficiency in the areas of heart surgery, electrophysiology services and cardiac catheterization.
The University of Rochester Medical Center's Strong Stroke Center has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO). The JCAHO certification follows a similar designation by the New York State Department of Health in September.
JCAHO certification represents the culmination of a lengthy and comprehensive review of the center's facilities, staffing, training, protocols, services and performance, as well as recognizes centers that "make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care."
"We are honored that both JCAHO and the State of New York have recognized the excellent work that is being done here at Strong Memorial Hospital," said Curtis Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Strong Stroke Center. "The Strong Stroke Center has a long history of providing the highest quality of care and breaking new ground in the treatment and rehabilitation of stroke victims."
Stroke is the third largest cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of disability. Prompt and effective treatments are essential to both saving lives and decreasing the long-term effects of stroke. Specifically, patients who are administered clot busting TPA drugs within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms are significantly more likely to make a full recovery.
"Time is a critical element for stroke patients," said Justine Zentner, R.N., a nurse practitioner in the stroke center. "Our approach has been to ensure that everyone—from the EMT on an inbound ambulance to the nurses and physicians that evaluate and treat patients—form an integrated team to provide fast and effective care."
The Strong Stroke Center is the fourth largest in New York State and treats 500 stroke victims annually. The team consists of four board-certified vascular neurologists, other supporting general neurologists, subspecialty nurse practitioners, and nurses who specialize in stroke care. This team provides 24-hour coverage, ensuring the ability to deliver time-sensitive care. In addition, a multi-disciplinary team of therapists provide follow-up care through a specialized inpatient unit and rehabilitation facilities.
Less than 12 months later, we have much to celebrate. While we fell just 175 pints short of our goal, we nearly tripled our overall collection rates from the previous year. Other important milestones also were reached throughout the year that will pay dividends in the future. For example, about 450 first-time donors took part in this year's campaign. And we now have 100 "recruiters" sprinkled throughout the Medical Center, who have answered the call to try and drum up support in their departments for our blood drives.
We also tried new firsts in 2005. We implemented an electronic registration system, available by logging onto www.givesblood.org. Like all new systems, there were some initial hiccups, but overall, it's been very well received and allows us to manage our data and help with blood donor communications. We also began holding one-day blood drives in the Kornberg atrium, to make donations more convenient for faculty and staff who work on that side of the Medical Center campus.
"I am very heartened to see the response of our faculty and staff," Evarts said. "We knew going into this campaign that 2,000 pints was a stretch goal. We've made terrific progress, and our task for 2006 is to keep our momentum going to help create a more stable blood supply for our community."
The Rochester area, like much of the country, continues to face chronic shortages in blood. Several times each year, the blood supply dips dangerously low, creating real concern that we may not have enough blood to treat any sudden influx of trauma patients. The American Red Cross estimates that three patients are helped with every donated pint.
The Medical Center is vitally connected to the community's blood supply. Whether it's giving a transfusion to a trauma victim, performing an organ transplant, or caring for a cancer patient, the work we do here both drives demand for and depends on a consistent, safe blood supply. In fact, in the first quarter of our current fiscal year, the demand for blood products rose at Strong Memorial by another 5 percent.
"Our goal is to do all we can to ensure that blood products are available every time a Rochester patient needs them," Evarts said. "So please, help make make our blood drive campaigns a success by participating in them. And bring along a friend!"
At the start of the New Year, the Medical Center's Department of Public Relations and Communications will offer two news services to all faculty and staff to help you stay on top of Medical Center news and developments. You will have the option to opt-in for one of these services; the other will be proactively e-mailed to all faculty and staff with a Medical Center e-mail account.
These new services will begin January 3, 2006. Please direct any questions and/or concerns to Germaine Reinhardt at Germaine_Reinhardt@urmc.rochester.edu or by calling ext. 5-6517.