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Place your tust in us

Sometimes good enough is just not good enough. It simply won't do to settle for adequate or average and not look for the perfect option.

That's particularly true when the stakes are high. A case in point: your healthcare. Especially if you're facing a serious medical problem.

At those times, you want the very best care. And that's exactly what you'll find at Jackson Hospital's centers of excellence for heart attack, stroke and spine surgery.

Excellence confirmed

The Joint Commission, the nation's leading accreditor of healthcare organizations, has recognized all three centers for their consistently exceptional patient care.

"Rigorous on-site reviews show that each center routinely meets—or exceeds—state-of- the-art quality and safety standards for providing care, from the moment a patient is admitted through discharge," says Karen Holland, director of quality and regulatory compliance at Jackson Hospital.

Among the highlights:

  • Jackson Hospital is designated as a Primary Stroke Center with advanced certification by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
  • Jackson Hospital has earned The Joint Commission's gold seal of approval for heart attack care and spine surgery. What's more, Jackson is Alabama's first hospital to receive this gold seal certification for either type of care.

"We are so proud that Jackson is leading the way in heart attack care and spine surgery, as well as providing the highest level of stroke care," says Jackson Hospital president and CEO Joe Riley. "We are committed to a hospital-wide culture of excellence so that any area resident can receive the latest and best care possible, right here in the River Region."

Also worth noting: The certification process is completely voluntary. "It takes significant time and effort and truly reflects our desire to constantly improve patient care," says neurosurgeon Patrick Ryan, MD, chairman of Jackson's board of trustees.

Here's a closer look at that superior care.

Help for damaged spines

Jackson's gold seal of approval for spine surgery means that you can count on our doctors to follow best practices when performing back and neck surgeries—whether they're done to ease the chronic pain of degenerative disk disease or spinal stenosis, repair a fracture or spinal deformity, or remove spinal cord tumors.

What's more, Jackson's spine surgeons often perform minimally invasive surgeries—using small incisions and specialized instruments—to speed recovery.

Among the surgeries our doctors perform:

Spinal fusion. One of the most common surgeries for back pain, a spinal fusion permanently joins two or more vertebrae in the spine.

Laminectomy. Here surgeons often remove bony overgrowths in the spinal canal that can trigger pain and numbness in the arms and legs.

Diskectomy. Involves removing all or part of a slipped or ruptured disk that’s putting pressure on a spinal nerve and causing pain and tingling.

Another plus for patients: During surgery, our spine surgeons are continuously guided by a 3-D imaging system. This helps them operate with even more precision.

"We have an exact roadmap of each patient's spine," Dr. Ryan says. "Consequently, we can place implants—such as screws and rods during a spinal fusion—with incredible accuracy." That accuracy also makes surgery safer by reducing the risk for harming healthy tissue during complex procedures.

And after the procedure, every patient is cared for by a specialized medical team dedicated to spine surgery—another way we ensure quality care.

But as successful as spine surgery is at Jackson, our surgeons only advise it when it's clearly beneficial and more conservative measures—such as physical therapy and medication—aren't effective.

"We don't rush to the OR," Dr. Ryan says. "And when surgery is necessary, we are very careful to select the right surgery for the right problem for the right patient."

Treating heart attacks

By some estimates, every year nearly 250,000 people nationwide have the most dangerous type of heart attack. Called a STEMI—that's short for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction—it's caused by a completely blocked artery affecting a large part of the heart.

Anyone experiencing a STEMI needs emergency angioplasty, a procedure in which doctors open the blocked artery with a small balloon at the tip of a catheter. And to give patients the best odds of survival and limit damage to the heart, that angioplasty needs to be performed quickly—within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.

"That's a national standard of care our hospital consistently meets," says Jackson Hospital staff cardiologist Howard Brazil, MD. "We pride ourselves on opening blocked arteries swiftly."

To ensure that frequently lifesaving treatment, Jackson Hospital has the following practices in place:

An interventional cardiologist is always available to perform emergency angioplasties and insert stents to keep newly opened arteries from narrowing again.

Jackson Hospital also partners with emergency medical personnel to streamline care. These first responders often perform EKGs—which measure the heart's electrical activity—on the way to the hospital, so treatment can start as soon as the patients arrive.

Still another measure of our excellence: Jackson is one of only two area hospitals providing heart bypass surgery, says Dr. Brazil. "In an emergency, we can stop a heart attack with angioplasty and a stent. But if heart disease is so severe that open heart surgery is the best long-run solution, that's an option too. We offer complete, first-rate care."

Sparing brain cells with speedy stroke treatment

Successfully treating a stroke is a minute-by- minute race against time. And it's one that Jackson Hospital—as a primary stroke center—is committed to winning.

Why the hurry? Most strokes happen when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain and brain cells—starved of oxygen and nutrients—quickly begin to die.

"The more time passes between a stroke's start and treatment, the more likely that brain functions are permanently lost," says Jackson staff neurologist Gregory Lipscomb, MD.

A powerful clot-busting drug called tPA can restore blood flow, greatly increasing the odds of surviving a stroke with little or no lasting disability. But to be effective, it must be administered in a very narrow window of time: generally within three hours after symptoms start.

To ensure the swiftest possible treatment, Jackson Hospital has in place:

A rapid-response stroke team. "Our team is available 24/7 to quickly evaluate and treat—with tPA, if appropriate—anyone who might be having a stroke," says Dr. Lipscomb. That team always includes a physician and others experienced in diagnosing and treating strokes.

Excellent coordination with emergency medical personnel. This allows care to start even before patients reach our door. So our stroke team is fully prepared to take over as soon as patients arrive.

Fast brain imaging. This is crucial, since imaging—typically a CT scan—is necessary to rule out bleeding in the brain, which is an infrequent but possible cause of a stroke. Because tPA can be dangerous in this case, imaging is always a part of diagnosis.

"Everything is in place to give stroke patients the best chance of a complete recovery," says Dr. Lipscomb. That includes rehabilitation services—such as speech or physical therapy—that can start during a hospital stay.

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