Message from Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu
Director, Capital Institute for Neurosciences
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery
As you will see in this newsletter, the Capital Institute for Neurosciences (CIN) recently attained the highest level of stroke designation granted by the Joint Commission. These are the highest standards achievable, and clearly many stroke centers in New Jersey and across the nation will not meet these tough requirements.
The Joint Commission developed the new Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers to recognize the significant difference in resources, staff, patient volume and training necessary to treat the most complex neurovascular emergencies.
Even some of the nation’s large academic centers will not meet these standards.
At CIN, we are proud that we achieved this designation. More important, we are humbled by the responsibility. We believe delivering care to patients who are facing a potentially life-changing medical emergency is a privilege and not a right — one we must earn each day by providing the highest level of care possible.
New Jersey was among the first states in the nation to create a system to designate certain hospitals as comprehensive stroke centers and to demand a higher level of care. The state should be commended. The state designation was given to 13 New Jersey hospitals. However, since that time our ability to intervene in cerebrovascular emergencies has improved dramatically.
We need to now ask if we need two separate designations — and different standards. Commissioner of Health Mary O’Dowd has been a champion of demanding the highest standards and insisting that hospitals work collaboratively to put patients first. We hope she and her department continue to champion this issue.
Currently, Capital Health Regional Medical Center is one of just two New Jersey hospitals that have attained the Joint Commission designation. I want to note that the Joint Commission designation also covers other neuroscience cases, such as aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations, or AVMs. Additionally, hospitals must provide ICU care for all neurovascular emergencies.
It is unlikely that all, or even most, of the 13 state-designated comprehensive stroke centers would meet the Joint Commission standards and patient volume requirements.
I would argue that 13 stroke centers in New Jersey is too many. We need fewer centers — but centers with higher standards and more experience. The aim should be for all of us in New Jersey to work together to do what is best for patients and not for the bottom line of hospitals.
Stay tuned for more information about our efforts to continue providing world-class neuroscience care. Remember it is your health and your CIN.