Grant Launches Collaborative Stroke Care Program

Nurse with patientURMC neurosurgeons and neurologists are building a collaborative program, bringing teams from Strong Memorial, Highland, Rochester General and Unity hospitals together to provide consistent and immediate stroke care. Stroke Treatment Alliance of Rochester (STAR) is a collaboration between Rochester’s three health systems funded by an $800,000 grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

The program includes vascular neurologists and neurosurgeons who provide around-the-clock emergency support and consultation for each hospital. Each Rochester hospital has a state Department of Health-designated Primary Stroke Center, yet care is inconsistent among the institutions.

“Communitywide teamwork is necessary to provide timely, comprehensive and effective care to each patient in the Rochester region who suffers a stroke,” said Webster H. Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgery chair at URMC. “The key is getting physicians in the community who care for stroke patients all working together to improve care. Enhancing the delivery of care for patients at each hospital is essential for improving survival and quality of life.”

URMC neurologist Curtis Benesch, M.D., M.P.H., and neurosurgeon Babak Jahromi, M.D., Ph.D., are leading the STAR initiative, working closely with Chris Burke, M.D., at Unity, David Rempe, M.D., and Richard Constantino, M.D., at RGH, and Adam Kelly, M.D., at Highland.

Recent studies show that only 28 percent of all people who suffered a stroke were transported to a hospital within an hour. Quick action is essential to optimal care. In addition to improving care, the consortium will develop a community education campaign about the risk factors and warning signs for strokes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the Rochester region has one of the highest stroke rates in New York, affecting 14 people per 1,000. Experts estimate approximately 3,000 area people are hospitalized in Rochester each year following a stroke or TIA. In addition, many patients require sometimes lengthy rehabilitation in specialized facilities and nursing homes.

STAR is a natural extension of URMC’s Rochester Neurosurgery Partners, which provides neurosurgical support and care at the community’s four acute-care hospitals. This group performs a wide range of neurosurgical procedures and staff track patient outcomes and work to improve care.

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