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Published on March 11, 2014

Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia Hospitals Receive Advanced Certification as Primary Stroke Center

Darby, PA (March 11, 2014): The Joint Commission recently awarded Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital (MFH) and Mercy Philadelphia Hospital (MPH) advanced certifications as Primary Stroke Centers. The certification recognizes the hospitals’ ability to continuously meet compliance and operational standards in order to provide safe, high-quality stroke care and treatment while improving patient outcomes. The recertification cycle is valid for up to 24 months.

“Receiving an advanced certification as a Primary Stroke Center is a testament to the superior stroke care and treatment that we are able to provide at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia Hospitals,” says Executive Director/Administrator Susan Cusack. “Advanced certification as a Primary Stroke Center is a voluntary process, one in which our staff successfully undertake in order to provide patients the highest chance of survival and recovery after a stroke.”

In order to receive an advanced certification as a Primary Stroke Center, both hospitals had to successfully meet a series of compliance requirements for The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Recertification program, as well as primary stroke center requirements, which were evaluated by a Joint Commission expert during rigorous on-site reviews.

“Achieving the Joint Commission’s qualifications for advanced certification is another way to recognize our commitment to providing effective, timely care and improving outcomes for stroke patients,” said Chief Medical Officer Sharon Carney, MD. “Having Primary Stroke Centers in Darby and Philadelphia is also incredibly vital to our communities and those in surrounding areas, as we are in two central locations to provide the greatest level of stroke care to many.”

In 2012, the Primary Stroke Center Recognition Act took effect, establishing protocols in Pennsylvania, which mandated EMS to transport stroke victims to the nearest Primary Stroke Center for assessment and treatment. Only in cases where a Primary Stroke Center is not within a specified time frame from onset of symptoms, a patient can be taken to any other facility that can provide appropriate stroke treatment.

“The services that our stroke program offers for patients suffering from stroke is life-changing,” says MFH Nurse Educator and Stroke Program Coordinator Kathleen Atwell, RN, MSHEd.

“Our team of highly trained emergency department staff as well as the talented neurologists and neurosurgeons work together to provide the advanced care and treatment necessary for successful stroke recovery. Moreover, it’s a collaborative effort between all hospital staff to recognize that when it comes to a stroke, time lost is brain lost. Through annual stroke education provided to all staff, even non-clinicians such as security officers or registration clerks can quickly recognize potential signs of stroke and immediately notify a nurse.”

In 2013, the hospitals treated 575 stroke cases - 289 at MFH with three tPA administrations and 286 at MPH with two tPA administrations. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), is an FDA-approved “clot-busting” treatment that can significantly improve the chances of ischemic stroke recovery if administered within three hours of stroke onset. Additionally, the hospitals’ quickest tPA administration times were 34 minutes at MFH and 58 minutes at MPH. The Stroke Center’s administration time goal is 60 minutes.

In addition to the recent advanced certification as Primary Stroke Centers, both hospitals received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for 2013. The prestigious award recognizes the hospitals’ commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients, according to evidence-based guidelines.

 “As an Advanced Primary Stroke Center, the community can feel confident that we are certified by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the Joint Commission as a center of excellence in the care provided for patients of stroke,” says MPH Stroke Coordinator Helene Rinnylo, RN. “Our staff is trained to act quickly, understanding that ‘Time is Brain’”.

For more information on the Joint Commission and American Heart Association’s Advanced Certification/Recertification for Primary Stroke Center, visit

Media Contact

Mary Beth McCloy
Communications Manager

Mercy Health System
One West Elm Street
Suite 100
Conshohocken, PA 19428

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