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2006 Press Releases
Morton Plant Mease Achieves Re-Certification as Primary Stroke Center by Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

Second Consecutive Certification Means Morton Plant Mease Hospitals are Recognized for National Level Stroke Care

CLEARWATER, Fla., (December 13, 2006) - The hospitals of Morton Plant Mease Health Care are part of the first group of hospitals nationally to have earned the Gold Seal of Approval™ for stroke care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for the second time. The Joint Commission has re-certified all four hospitals of Morton Plant Mease – Morton Plant in Clearwater, Mease Countryside in Safety Harbor, Mease Dunedin and Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey – as Primary Stroke Centers.

“To say that our hospitals are certified as Primary Stroke Centers means that we have multi-disciplinary teams in place and cutting-edge medical technology available to deliver the highest quality care to stroke patients. The Gold Seal honor certifies that Morton Plant Mease Hospitals are among the very best in the nation at preventing and treating strokes and can be the first line of defense,” said Philip K. Beauchamp, FACHE, president and chief executive officer, Morton Plant Mease Health Care.

“The re-certification also symbolizes our strong commitment to educating staff at all Morton Plant Mease hospitals and the community about stroke risk factors – how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and the importance of immediate medical treatment,” added Ajay Arora, M.D., neurologist and co-medical director of Morton Plant Mease Health Care’s stroke program. By Florida law, only JCAHO certified stroke centers or those indicating that they have met JCAHO criteria can receive patients believed to be suffering from stroke who are transported by public emergency medical services.

“Time is brain for stroke patients. In other words, the faster a patient receives treatment, the better the chance of recovery with minimal side effects to the brain and body. That’s why it’s critical for patients to be taken to certified Primary Stroke Centers,” said William Huntley, M.D., neurologist and co-medical director of Morton Plant Mease Health Care’s stroke program.

To receive the Gold Seal for primary stroke care, Morton Plant Mease underwent a rigorous evaluation process that included visits by members of the Joint Commission to the hospitals. The Joint Commission's Primary Stroke Center Certification is based on the recommendations for primary stroke centers published by the Brain Attack Coalition and the American Stroke Association's statements/guidelines for stroke care. The Joint Commission launched the program - the nation's first - in 2003.

"Morton Plant Mease has demonstrated that its stroke care program follows national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients," says Charles A. Mowll, executive vice president, Business Development, Government, and External Relations, Joint Commission.

The Morton Plant Mease stroke care program is a comprehensive program encompassing neurology, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology and stroke rehabilitation. Patients have access to the latest minimally invasive stroke treatments such as blood clot retrieval devices that can completely reverse the effects of a stroke, and rehabilitative therapies including:

* Electrotherapy that re-trains muscles in the throat of stroke patients who have difficulty swallowing

* Vision and motor restoration therapy that helps restore function in stroke patients by reactivating damaged nerve cell activity related to vision

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the nation’s third leading cause of death. Each year an estimated 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every 3.1 minutes. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with approximately 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today. Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 8,000 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,800 other health care organizations that provide long term care, assisted living, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also accredits health plans, integrated delivery networks, and other managed care entities. In addition, the Joint Commission provides certification of disease-specific care programs. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals – Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199 Phone, (727) 419-4471 Pager or Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 Phone, (727) 468-7586 Pager