Certified as Center of Excellence for Stroke Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest Becomes the First in Idaho to be Certified as a Center of Excellence for Stroke Rehabilitation

Seventy-six year-old Judy Gray of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had just finished dinner at a restaurant with her husband when she knew something was wrong. Her body felt limp, she had double vision, and she couldn’t speak. Even though she wanted to go home and lay down, her husband immediately called 911.

Gray was taken to a local hospital where she learned she had a stroke. After receiving initial medical treatment, Gray was transferred to Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest to receive continued care.

Gray is one of numerous patients who have received rehabilitation following a stroke at Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest. The hospital recently became the first in Idaho to be certified by The Joint Commission for Stroke Rehabilitation. Certification is voluntary and given after a rigorous on-site review of the hospital’s practices, programs, and outcomes in patients who have suffered from strokes.

“Strokes can happen to anyone at any time,” says Dr. Steve Foster, Associate  Medical Director of Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest. “They occur when blood flow and oxygen is cut off to an area of the brain, causing brain cells to die. This, in turn, affects the abilities controlled by that part of the brain. To get the most successful results for stroke patients, we use best practices and follow evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.”

Foster says by doing this, the hospital can provide patients with quicker recovery times, allow more patients to discharge to home, and help patients gain more physical and cognitive independence.

At the hospital, an interdisciplinary healthcare team works with patients and their family members to create individualized treatment plans so the patients can progress at their own ability levels. The rehabilitation team includes specially trained physicians, nurses, case managers, and occupational, speech, and physical therapists – among other medical professionals. Patients receive 24-hour rehabilitative nursing care and daily physician management.

Gray received physical, occupational, and speech therapy at the hospital for two weeks to help her re-learn how to walk, speak, and perform daily activities like brushing her teeth and eating.

“Looking back, I had symptoms prior to this stroke,” Gray says. “I thought my double vision was because of cataracts. I was always active – boating, golfing, traveling, and exercising. I didn’t recognize the double vision as a symptom of stroke, but now I know.”

“Strokes can have debilitating effects on individuals and their families,” says Maureen Fakinos, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest. “We take our responsibility seriously to ensure that our patients are provided the best opportunities for recovery.  The review and certification provided by The Joint Commission lets us – and the community – know that we’re setting a new standard of care for stroke patients. Patients don’t have to leave the area to receive this higher level of service.”

Gray says she feels she wouldn’t have been able to progress as well if it weren’t for the healthcare team and treatment she received at Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest. Her goal is to be able to golf again and to walk independently without a walker or wheelchair in the near future.

“I experienced so much care and compassion from the hospital staff,” Gray says. “I’m so grateful for them. And, I’m so thankful that my husband insisted on calling 911 that night instead of allowing me to go home and ‘sleep it off.’ I know my outcome would have been much worse if it wasn’t for him. My advice to anyone who thinks they might be experiencing stroke symptoms is to get to the hospital as fast as you can.”