McAllen Medical earns top honors for its stroke center

Stroke survivors are seen Tuesday with hospital and local leaders from McAllen Medical Center to celebrate South Texas Health System's announcement that the hospital received a DNV-GL Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. (Courtesy photo)

McAllen Medical Center is now equipped to handle the most complex neurological needs in the Upper Rio Grande Valley.

South Texas Health System announced Tuesday the hospital received a DNV-GL Comprehensive Stroke Center designation, which means it can quickly and efficiently treat all kinds of strokes.

The designation is the highest level of stroke certification available and it encompasses the full spectrum of care — diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and education. The distinction is awarded by the Det Norske Veritas, or DNV group, a Norwegian risk management company founded in 1864 and approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Only 90 facilities in the U.S. have earned this designation, STHS CEO Todd Mann said Tuesday during a news conference.

“And (now) you have one right here in Hidalgo County,” he said. “It is all about elevating the level of care for our community and we have done that.”

The Rio Grande Valley landed its first comprehensive stroke center in 2016, when the designation was awarded to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen.

“We’ve been in other hospitals in the Lower Valley for years now as a comprehensive center, but those patients had to be transferred,” endovascular neurologist Ameer Hassan said.

Now, patients in Hidalgo County can stay close to home and receive treatment faster.

Legislators joined stroke survivors and hospital and area leaders at McAllen Medical Center on Tuesday, when South Texas Health System’s announced the hospital received a DNV-GL Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. (Courtesy photo)

“You don’t have to wait an hour for transfer time; you don’t have to wait for inappropriate workups done at other small hospitals,” Hassan said. “So you save a lot of time, and we all know that time is brain. Every minute, 2 million neurons die, so the faster you can get treatment, the more functional recovery you’ll have.”

IBC Senior Vice President and Marketing Manager Dora Brown is a perfect example of what can be achieved with the right staff, equipment and level of care, physicians said Tuesday.

Brown had a stroke Aug. 17 and was taken to a nearby hospital before being transported to McAllen Medical Center for more complex care.

“The other hospital was good enough and great enough to know that it was something that they couldn’t handle there, but they knew they could do it here at McAllen Medical,” she said Tuesday.

Hassan removed a blood clot from Brown’s brain through a procedure that started at her groin, she said, and he was able to do so through equipment the hospital had just received a few weeks earlier.

“All the stars were aligned for me,” she said.

Brown was up and at it the following day, with little to no signs of having been through a stroke.

“They couldn’t believe what I had gone through and that I was already wide awake,” she said. “Doctor Hassan will forever be someone that I pray for every night because he saved my life.”

nlopez@themonitor.com