Stroke Center Marked it's 10th Anniversary, May 2011

May 01, 2011

The Stroke Center has experienced remarkable growth since beginning with a group of five core staff members.

Current staffing includes five stroke neurologists, three interventional neuroradiologists, and two dedicated APRNs. The program’s initial focal points were the establishment as a regional leader in patient care, education, and clinical research as well an inpatient service that offered novel, catheter-based (intra-arterial) treatments for acute ischemic stroke.

“The Stroke Center has developed into a flagship program of Hartford Hospital, and is exemplary of how Hartford HealthCare strives to deliver complex regional care within southern New England,” said Elliot Joseph, president and CEO of Hartford Hospital and Hartford HealthCare.

During its initial decade, the Stroke Center has developed a variety of core clinical programs. The interventional neuroradiology group is directed by Gary Spiegel. An inpatient stroke service is run by a weekly stroke neurologist and neurovascular APRN, and accounts for the majority of inpatient care within the Neurology Department. A weekly neurovascular clinic combines the disciplines of vascular neurology, vascular neurosurgery, and interventional neuroradiology, as well as components of neuropsychology and physiatry; and Donna Avanecean, APRN coordinates the Stroke Center’s outpatient program.

Stroke Center Marked it's 10th Anniversary, May 2011Fellowships in vascular neurology and endovascular neurosurgery were initiated at the start of this academic medical year, last July. An annual daylong CME program is offered on Stroke-related clinical topics. Landmark accomplishments include becoming the first Primary Stroke Center certified by the Joint Commission (TJC) in the entire New England region in March 2004 and leading the United States as an enrollment site in several acute stroke clinical trials. The program also received the Gold Plus Achievement Award in 2010 and 2011 from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Annual growth in the volume of inter-hospital transfers, facilitated by the HH Transfer Center, via the Acute Stroke 1-800 Hotline service has been sustained, as well growth in the percentage of stroke inpatients receiving emergent therapies to >28% per year. The Stroke Center maintains the leading market share statewide for hospital-based stroke diagnoses, at 11-12%, of patients within the state of Connecticut.

Stroke patients and their families receive education while at HH on the inpatient service; during their follow-up visits at the weekly Stroke Clinics; and during a daylong public education program, the annual Living! With Stroke conference coordinated by Dawn Beland, R.N., MSN, held each May during Stroke Awareness Month. A new Patient Advisory Board, directed by Dr. Inam Kureshi and Beland was instituted in April to improve the patient experience within the Hartford HealthCare system.


The Stroke Center in Action

The clinical group has also grown substantially, with the following additions: Dr. Lauren Sansing, vascular neurology, translational research; Dr. Catherine Hosley, vascular neurology, neuro-hospitalist; Dr. Martin Ollenschleger, interventional neuroradiologist; and Ruth Foster, APRN, neurology inpatient service.

Stroke Center Timeline

  • May 2, 2001: Founding of the Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital
  • Jun. 2001: Acute Stroke Team
  • Jun. 2001: Acute Interventional (Catheter-Based) Stroke Protocols
    Aug., 2002: Recruitment of Interventional Neuroradiologist -> INR Service
    June, 2003: Dedication of Interventional Neuroradiology (‘Endovascular’) Suite
  • Nov. 2001: Young Patients with PFO Program
  • Oct. 2002: Neurovascular Clinic
  • 2002: Regional Acute Stroke Hospital Network
    Mar. 2003: 1-800 Acute Stroke Hotline Service
  • 2003: Clinical Trials Program
    May 2004: Clinical Trials Clinic
  • Mar. 2004: Primary Stroke Center JCAHO Certification
    1st in New England; 11th evaluated nationally
  • Jul. 2004: Basic Science Program
  • Aug. 2004: FDA approval of MERCI Device for AIS therapy
  • Jun. 2005: Neurocritical Care / Stroke Staff Physician
  • Apr. 2006: Inpatient Stroke Service
    Recruitment of Neurovascular Nurse Practitioner
  • Oct. 2006: Acute Case Study Featured on National NBC Morning Show
  • 2007: Stroke Clinic
  • Aug. 2007: ACGME Approval of Vascular Neurology Fellowship
  • April 2008: CT DPH Primary Stroke Center Designation
  • 2008: ACGME Approval of Endovascular Neurosurgery Fellowship
  • 2009-11: Growth Phase – Staff Recruitment