Patient Care

UR Medicine Recognized for Stroke Care, Launches Neurocritical Care Program

Feb. 4, 2014

UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital has been recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. This designation, which has only been conferred on two other hospitals in New York State, places UR Medicine among an elite group of institutions that provide highly-specialized complex stroke care. This certification also coincides with the launch of a new program dedicated to providing intensive care to patients with severe neurological disorders such as stroke.

“We are proud that The Joint Commission has recognized our dedicated team of neurologists, cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, emergency department physicians, therapists, nurses, and staff,” said neurologist Curtis Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., the medical director of the Strong Memorial Hospital Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center. “This certification is a testament to their commitment to provide the highest and most comprehensive level of stroke care to our community.” 

“When treating stroke patients, time equals brain,” said Babak Jahromi, M.D., Ph.D., surgical director of the Center. “This requires a group of trained individuals that is ready at a moment’s notice to not only evaluate stroke patients and provide immediate care, but also has access to advanced surgical interventions that can help restore brain function when other methods fail.”

Comprehensive Stroke Center certification recognizes those hospitals that have the state-of-the-art infrastructure, staff, and training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes.  Strong Memorial Hospital underwent a rigorous onsite review last December.  Requirements for Comprehensive Stroke Center designation include advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and staff with the unique training and skills to care for complex stroke patients, including access to endovascular treatments that can surgically remove clots from the brain.

Stroke team members at Strong work closely with their counterparts at Highland Hospital to evaluate and coordinate care for the most severe stroke cases. 

One of the key elements in Comprehensive Stroke Center designation is the presence of 24-hour intensive neurological care. This concept – called neurocritical care – is relatively new in the field of medicine. The physicians who practice this care are called neurointensivists, and often undergo fellowship training in several different fields, including neurology, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, and critical care medicine. 

 “Our team of providers already delivers the most advanced care for stroke patients,” said Web Pilcher, M.D., chair the Neurosurgery Department.   “The creation of a neurocritical care program is the next evolution in our efforts to ensure that individuals with severe and acute neurological conditions – such as stroke – receive the kind of coordinated, comprehensive, and technology-driven care necessary to increase survival and improve quality of life.”  

The new Neuromedicine Critical Care Program is comprised of a dedicated team of caregivers that focus on serious and life-threatening neurological illness, including conditions such as strokes, brain hemorrhages, traumatic brain injury, and brain and spinal cord tumors.

Last year, the Medical Center recruited two new physicians with the training and unique skills necessary to establish and operate this program. Neurologist Manjunath Markandaya, M.B.B.S. – who was named chief of the division of neurocritical care – specializes in caring for some of the most challenging and critically ill patients with neurological disorders. He joins UR Medicine from R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center and, prior to that, was a staff physician in the Cleveland Clinic Neurologic Intensive Care Unit.   He received his fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.

Amrendra Singh Miranpuri, M.D. – who was named surgical co-director of the Neuromedicine Critical Care Program – specializes in open and interventional neurosurgical procedures for cerebrovascular disease. He received his training at the University of Wisconsin and the Medical University of South Carolina. 

The program currently occupies eight beds in the Kessler Burn and Trauma Center at Strong Memorial Hospital. A new Neuromedicine Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is under construction at Strong and will consist of 12 beds. This unit – which will open in the summer of 2014 – will be the only 24-hour ICU dedicated to neurocritical care in the region.

“This program will not only ensure that we are providing the best possible care to individuals with grave and life-threatening neurological conditions, it will also enable us to train the next generation of neurointensivists and, through research and collaboration, discover new and better ways to help patients and their families overcome these devastating diseases,” said Robert Holloway, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Neurology Department.  

UR Medicine’s Neurology and Neurosurgery programs are recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the best in the nation.  Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals have also received the AHA/ASA Get With The Guidelines program’s highest honor, the Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The two hospitals are also New York State designated Stroke Centers.