Gwinnett Medical Center awarded for stroke care

A local hospital has been given a gold seal of approval, literally.

Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville has been recognized for its stroke care for the second year in a row, and can now boast a shiny seal of approval on all its advertising and correspondence material, thanks to an award from The Joint Commission.

Last week the hospital was awarded the Certificate of Distinction as a Primary Stroke Center by the commission - an independent, nonprofit organization and the nation's largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

The Joint Commission evaluates hospitals based on criteria developed with the American Stroke Association, looking for written care protocols, education programs and outcomes of quality improvement activities, according to its Web site.

"If you think of it in terms of the restaurant business, where they do restaurant inspections, this is like that," said nurse Susan Gaunt, Gwinnett Medical Center's stroke program coordinator, of the award evaluation process. "A stroke expert who is a surveyor comes in and follows a patient around and quizzes our medical staff to make sure the patients are getting proper care."

According to the commission, the award recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster improved patient outcomes for stroke care.

The certification signifies that the Gwinnett hospital provides the highest level of care - from emergency room admittance to recovery - for stroke patients.

"This certification is a testament to the fact that any patient coming to GMC with signs of stroke will receive the best service and latest treatment techniques available," said Dr. Marshall Nash, medical director of stroke and the stroke research program at the hospital. "Our stroke program is successful, not just because of the technology or processes we utilize, but because of the dedication and enthusiasm of the professionals doing the job."

The commission's seal is recognized nationwide and the group evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

"The physicians, nurses and staff providing stroke care at GMC are some of the best in the business," Nash said. "This is a point of pride for the program, and it should be a point of pride for the people of Gwinnett County to know that the highest level of care is available right in their backyard."