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Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center Awarded Advanced Certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center has been recognized by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as meeting The Joint Commission’s standards for Disease-Specific Care Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification, which means it is part of an elite group of providers focused on complex stroke care. Complex Stroke Centers are recognized as industry leaders and are responsible for setting the national agenda in highly-specialized stroke care.

Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification recognizes those hospitals that have state-of-the-art infrastructure, staff and training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes. Fort Sanders Regional underwent a rigorous onsite review in January of this year. Joint Commission experts reviewed Fort Sanders’ compliance with the Comprehensive Stroke Center standards and requirements including advanced imaging capabilities, 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, and staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients.  “Our stroke team was able to share with the surveyors the outstanding work our physicians, staff and volunteers provide to stroke patients at Fort Sanders,” said Keith Altshuler, President and Chief Administrative Officer of Fort Sanders.  “It is very humbling to receive this recognition and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”

"By achieving this advanced certification, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends Fort Sanders for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

 “The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association congratulates Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on its Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification,” commented Mark J. Alberts, M.D., FAHA, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association spokesperson and incoming Vice-Chair of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Comprehensive Stroke Centers offer a high level of care for patients with the most severe and challenging types of strokes and cerebrovascular disease.”

 “Fort Sanders Regional is thoroughly committed to providing our patients with the highest quality stroke care based on current scientific research to ensure continuous improvement in care,” said Altshuler.  “Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification has given us the opportunity to highlight the exceptional stroke care we provide for our patients, and improved care overall for the benefit of our community."

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center Stroke CenterVisit the Fort Sanders Regional Stroke Center site for more information.

Stroke Facts

What is a stroke?

A stroke, often called a brain attack, occurs when a blood vessel either bursts or has blockage that prevents normal blood flow to the brain.  Strokes can happen to anyone – young and old, men and women, healthy and not-so-healthy.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

An easy way to remember the symptoms of stroke is by the acronym FAST:

  • Face – in many instances, facial muscles are affected by stroke.  Is one side of your face drooping?  Does it look different?
  • Arms – Hold both arms out in front of you.  Are both at the same level?  Are you having trouble keeping them both symmetrical?
  • Speech – slurred speech or the inability to speak at all can both indicate the presence of a stroke.
  • Time – the quicker you get to an emergency room for a diagnosis, the faster you can affect future cognition and mobility.

How is a stroke diagnosed? 

Strokes are diagnosed by the use of computerized tomographic angiography, or CTA.  A CTA will show physicians the flow of blood within the brain.

Ischemic strokes
occur most often and are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel within the brain.  Doctors diagnose this type of stroke by seeing a lack of blood flowing on the other side of the clot.  When blood does not reach the brain cells, the brain will die.

In cases of a hemorrhagic stroke, doctors will see blood flowing outside of the veins – typically called a “brain bleed”.  Extra blood within the brain causes pressure on brain cells, and can cause irreparably damage.

Why is treating stroke so important? 

Stroke is the third leading health-related cause of death and Tennessee ranks third in the country with deaths from stroke.  80% of East Tennesseans are able to identify at least one stroke warning sign.

About the Certification

Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification was developed in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and derived from the Brain Attack Coalition’s "Recommendations for Comprehensive Stroke Centers," (Stroke, 2005), and "Metrics for Measuring Quality of Care in Comprehensive Stroke Centers," (Stroke, 2011), and on recommendations from a multidisciplinary advisory panel of experts in complex stroke care.

About Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center

Fort Sanders offers comprehensive clinical & ancillary services for stroke, including:
  • Comprehensive Neurosciences service line
  • Neurointerventional Radiology
  • Area’s only Stroke Program with Joint Commission and CARF accreditations
  • Sole provider of Gamma-knife services
  • Tele-stroke services
  • Spine Center of Excellence
  • Comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facility (Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center) with multiple CARF accreditations
    • Mission Statement: Serve the community by providing complex stroke care to seriously ill patients with stroke and cerebrovascular disease through a collaborative and coordinated multidisciplinary program

About The Joint Commission:

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 10,600 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,600 other health care organizations that provide long term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also certifies more than 2,400 disease-specific care programs such as stroke, heart failure, joint replacement and stroke rehabilitation, and 400 health care staffing services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country.

The familiar Heart-Check mark now helps consumers evaluate their choices in hospital care. Each mark given to a hospital is earned by meeting specific standards for the care of patients with heart disease and/or stroke. The Heart-Check mark can only be displayed by hospitals that have achieved and defined requirements set by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. For more information on the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Hospital Accreditation Program visit

For more information on The Joint Commission and American Heart Association’s Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Center visit or