Learn more about the comprehensive stroke services at UPMC Hamot.

Every second matters when you experience a stroke; the care you receive matters even more. The UPMC Stroke Institute is a national leader in stroke diagnosis and treatment.

The Joint Commission designates three UPMC hospitals as Comprehensive Stroke Centers — the highest possible classification:

  • UPMC Hamot.
  • UPMC Mercy.
  • UPMC Presbyterian.

Hospitals throughout the UPMC Stroke Institute network benefit from our expert teams and advanced care.

Learn about what comprehensive stroke care entails and what UPMC provides.

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What Is Stroke Certification?

The Joint Commission accredits health care providers in various specialties based on quality and safety of care. It has four advanced certification levels for stroke care:

  • Comprehensive Stroke Center.
  • Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Center.
  • Primary Stroke Center.
  • Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.

The Joint Commission provides its stroke certifications in partnership with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

What Is a Comprehensive Stroke Center?

A Comprehensive Stroke Center is the highest level of stroke certification. It means a hospital can receive and treat the most serious stroke cases.

A 2022 study in the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open analyzed the number of stroke centers in the United States. The study reported that of 5,533 United States emergency departments, only 297 — or about 5% — are Comprehensive Stroke Centers.

To receive Comprehensive Stroke Center designation, a hospital must meet several requirements for care and research. Those include:

  • An acute stroke team that is available at all times.
  • Comprehensive diagnostic services.
  • Dedicated neurointensive care unit beds that are available at all times for complex stroke patients.
  • Neurosurgical services that are available at all times.
  • On-site coverage of the neurointensive care unit by a neurospecialist.
  • Participation in patient-centered research.
  • The ability to diagnose and treat multiple complex stroke patients at all times.
  • Tracking, monitoring, and reporting performance measures.

Why Is Advanced Stroke Care Important?

Expert stroke care matters because early diagnosis can save lives and brain function. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke.
  • Every three minutes and 14 seconds, someone dies from a stroke.
  • More than 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year.
  • For each minute a stroke is untreated, a typical patient can lose nearly 2 million brain cells.
  • The sooner a stroke patient is diagnosed and receives treatment, the more brain cells can be saved.

“It’s important to have a specialist on-site, immediately available, and a standard plan of care so everybody knows what they’re doing and when they’re doing it before that patient even arrives,” says Charles Romero, MD, interventional neuroradiologist and director of Stroke Services, UPMC Hamot.

How UPMC Provides Advanced Stroke Care

The UPMC Stroke Institute provides expert care throughout our network of hospitals. Our goal is to retain and restore function for stroke patients.

Teams of UPMC neurologists, neurointerventionalists, and neurosurgeons work together to provide quick, accurate diagnoses and advanced treatments. We are a national leader in medical and surgical treatments like the endovascular thrombectomy procedure. Our research has helped to clear the way for new treatments and therapies for stroke.

In addition to our three Comprehensive Stroke Centers, 11 other UPMC hospitals have advanced stroke certification:

  • Thrombectomy-Capable Stroke Centers: UPMC Altoona.
  • Primary Stroke Centers: UPMC East, UPMC Northwest, UPMC Passavant, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Somerset, UPMC St. Margaret, and UPMC Williamsport.
  • Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals: UPMC Bedford and UPMC Williamsport.

The UPMC Stroke Institute also provides the UPMC telestroke service. Providers at hospitals throughout UPMC’s stroke network can contact an on-call UPMC neurologist 24/7 if a patient is suspected of having a stroke. The neurologist can assess the patient over video, view imaging scans, and recommend treatment.

Through the UPMC telestroke service, UPMC can provide quick diagnoses for patients throughout our network. This can lead to quick treatment, potentially saving brain function — and lives.

“If we have the best stroke doctors available electronically that can be there within moments to intervene, this is just a great example of how we can leverage technology to benefit our patients and really improve the care that we provide,” says Rameen Shafiei, MD, director, UPMC Western Maryland Emergency Department.

To learn more about the expert care at UPMC Stroke Institute, visit our website.

About Neurosurgery

The UPMC Department of Neurosurgery is the largest academic neurosurgical provider in the United States. We treat conditions of the brain, skull base, spine, and nerves, including the most complex disorders. We perform more than 11,000 procedures each year, making our team one of the most experienced in the world. Whether your condition requires surgery or not, we strive to provide the most advanced, complete care possible. Our surgeons are developing new techniques and tools, including minimally invasive treatments. Find an expert near you.