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Ukiah Valley Medical Center Awarded Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers


UKIAH, CA – The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recently recognized Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. This designation signifies an organization’s dedication to achieving the best outcome for patients presenting with symptoms of stroke. With stroke being the leading cause of disability across the nation, early diagnosis and intervention affects the quality of life greatly.

The designation was granted following a rigorous on-site review in June of 2014. A Joint Commission expert reviewed UVMC’s compliance with the requirements for The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Certification program as well as primary stroke center requirements, such as collecting performance data on key measures of timeliness and care, using it for improvement.

Emergency Room Registered Nurse, Kim Swift spearheaded the certification process. “I worked closely with our clinical staff to develop stroke protocols and competencies. I reviewed all stroke cases and worked with our council to make patient care improvements when necessary. We worked closely with our local emergency medical responder teams in the field and with our radiology and laboratory teams in the hospital. This allowed us to shorten the time it takes to determine if the patient in fact is having a stroke, because when you are having a stroke – every second counts!”

"In achieving Joint Commission advanced certification, UVMC has demonstrated its commitment to the highest level of care for its stroke patients,” says Jean Range, M.S., R.N., C.P.H.Q. executive director, Disease-Specific Care Certification, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends UVMC for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate its standard of care and instill confidence in the community it serves.”

According to VP of Patient Care at UVMC, Heather Van Housen, attaining this certification is to really give the community peace-of-mind. “In 2013 we saw 108 stroke patients in our emergency department – a 20 percent increase over 2012. We are committed to being the best hospital possible to come to when you have symptoms of stroke. The multi-disciplinary team ready to serve you includes professionals in emergency medicine, nursing, radiology, laboratory, rehabilitation – all blending their passion and skill to improve the care of patients experiencing stroke symptoms.”

“Our goal in treating stroke patients is to complete the initial evaluation, including the radiologist review of imaging, within 45 minutes,” said Chief of Medical Staff at UVMC, Charlie Evans, M.D., who continued, “Studies show that patients who present early enough to have intervention with thrombolytic (clot busting) drugs within the first 3 hours may benefit from use of these medications.

This means, that if our stroke team reaches its goal and completes the assessment within 45 minutes, a patient must arrive in the ED no later than 2 hours and 15 minutes from the onset of their symptoms to maximally benefit from our treatment. Like most all systems of health care today this required a tremendous team effort and one that we are all proud to have accomplished. Our community will be well served by the efforts of this committed group of individuals who are truly committed to helping patients who suffer from this debilitating and life changing effects of stroke.”

“Our team is committed to providing our community with the highest quality stroke care based on current scientific research to ensure continuous improvement in care,” said Gwen Matthews, President and CEO of UVMC, “Primary Stroke Center Certification has given us the opportunity to highlight the exceptional stroke care we provide for our patients, and improved outcomes that benefit the patients and families in our community.”

Developed in collaboration with the American Stroke Association and launched in 2003, The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification program is based on the Brain Attack Coalition's "Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers." Certification is available only to stroke programs in Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals.

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


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

-- UVMC --

Ukiah Valley Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,600 includes more than 20,500 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,600 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist health values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 220 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. We invite you to visit for more information.