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OMH receives Joint Commission recertification as Advanced Primary Stroke Center

Written by Jennifer Mackenzie


North Carolina currently has the 8th highest stroke mortality rate in the country, but Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH) is actively striving to be part of the solution, and the latest proof is the hospital’s recertification as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.

“Our Joint Commission recertification as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center is validation of our continued work in preventing stroke, treating stroke patients, and following up with patients, as well as their families, to make sure they’re getting the care and resources they need,” said Jo Malfitano, Performance Improvement & Accreditation Director for the hospital. 

The Joint Commission’s high standards and emphasis on clinical practice guidelines help hospitals establish a consistent approach to care, reducing the risk of error. Joint Commission reviewers are trained to provide expert advice and feedback during the on-site review. A new scoring methodology called the Survey Analysis for Evaluating Risk (SAFER) matrix was put into place by The Joint Commission (TJC) this year. The SAFER matrix is intended to better identify and communicate risk levels associated with deficiencies cited during accreditation surveys.

“The Joint Commission surveyor who visited the hospital in December was extremely complimentary of our organization, providers and staff,” Malfitano said. “She said our matrix score was truly remarkable for a hospital of our size. It shows that we maintain the highest level of care and use the safest proven treatments for stroke.”

As part of the recertification process, a hospital must also show a strong presence in the community with screenings and educational programs, explained Tonya Whitaker, the hospital’s Stroke Nurse Coordinator. A few of the screenings already scheduled for this month include #HealthyInOnslow at the OMH Rehab Center (January 19), Camp Lejeune Employee Wellness Fair (January 25), and the quarterly “Wellness Wednesday” (January 30) held in the hospital cafeteria.

And because stroke care is a complex and long-term challenge for patients and their families, OMH actively takes part in the state’s COMPASS study (COMprehensive Post-Acute Stroke Services) which focuses on post-acute care management. 

“We know that treatment and recovery must extend well past discharge to be fully effective” explained Lisa Edmundson, Post-Acute Care Coordinator. Edmundson and her team make sure that stroke patients, and their caregivers, have the resources they need once they return home. For example, some patients need help with reliable transportation to get to their doctor appointments, or have questions about their medications; and many caregivers benefit from support groups. “We want to make sure patients and their families have the answers, support and assistance they need to feel cared for 100% of the time,” Edmundson said.

If your business, civic group or place of worship is interested in setting up a free stroke screening, please feel free to contact Tonya Whitaker at 910-577-2838.