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DHR Health becomes only hospital south of San Antonio to receive the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® as a Comprehensive Stroke Center – the highest designation for hospitals 1

Featured: Marissa Castañeda, Chief Operations Officer, DHR Health, provides information about the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute Stroke Program during the Thursday, December 20, 2018 State of the Hospital Address held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

Photograph Courtesy DHR Health


DHR Health becomes only hospital south of San Antonio to receive the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® as a Comprehensive Stroke Center – the highest designation for hospitals


DHR Health has joined an elite group of health care organizations focused on highly-specialize stroke care when on Thursday, February 14, 2019, it became the first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in the Rio Grande Valley.

DHR Health has received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® as a Comprehensive Stroke Center — the only hospital south of San Antonio to achieve this certification — and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Center.

This is the highest designation a hospital can achieve in stroke care.

“We are proud to be recognized by the Joint Commission and American Heart Association for the care we have deliver to stroke patients in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Dr. Patrick Noonan, Medical Director of the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute Stroke Program.

With these certifications, DHR Health joins an elite group of hospitals that can provide highly-specialized stroke care. There are fewer than 30 hospitals across the state of Texas currently designated as comprehensive stroke centers.

“Time is brain in an ischemic stroke – 1.9 million neurons are destroyed every minute after one occurs,” explained Dr. Zuka Khabbazeh, Chair of Neurology at the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute. “Achieving the fastest possible revascularization is the goal. This designation shows our EMS and ambulance partners that we have the capability and that we consistently deliver that highly specialized care at the right time. There should be no question in anyone’s mind about where stroke patients should be treated in the Valley.”

Ischemic (“is-skeem-ic”) stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. The brain depends on its arteries to bring fresh blood from the heart and lungs. Ischemic stroke is by far the most common kind of stroke, accounting for about 88 percent of all strokes.

In medical and surgical therapy, revascularization is the restoration of perfusion to a body part or organ that has suffered ischemia. It is typically accomplished by surgical means.[1] Vascular bypass and angioplasty are the two primary means of revascularization.

To be designated as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, hospitals must demonstrate 24/7 availability of specialists such as neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists, intensivists, and neurologists.

A Comprehensive Stroke Center has to adhere to rigorous clinical protocols, perform high volumes of procedures, and demonstrate excellent clinical outcomes. The designation also requires a demonstrated commitment to stroke-related research.

“The Joint Commission designated Comprehensive Stroke Centers consistently outperform non-certified organization on the same outcome measures. Simply put, a stroke patient has a better chance at surviving and making a better recovery by coming to a Comprehensive Stroke Center than elsewhere,” said Dr. Joseph Pean, Director of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at DHR Health. “This is the value of The Joint Commission’s designation over other certifying bodies.”

DHR Health underwent a rigorous onsite review in November 2018 when The Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements.

“By achieving this advanced certification, DHR Health has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president and CEO, The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process and The Joint Commission commends DHR Health for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

“Not every hospital is the same when it comes to care of stroke. For example, few hospitals can perform well both treatments for a type of stroke known as aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage — micro-surgical clipping or endovascular coiling,” said Dr. Sohum Desai, Vice Chair of the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute. “The choice of treatment depends on a number of factors including a patient’s age, location and shape of the aneurysm, and medical history among other things. It is not a one size fits all approach. This designation shows that we tailor our treatment in a multidisciplinary manner to achieve best outcomes.”

“The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association congratulates DHR Health on achieving Comprehensive Stroke Center certification,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “Meeting the standards for Comprehensive Stroke Center certification represents a commitment to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”

Dr. Juan Padilla, neurosurgeon and Chair of the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute, said the certification continues the hospital system’s reputation as being the premier medical system in deep South Texas.

“DHR Health is pleased to receive advanced certification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association,” said Padilla. “The certification provides us with the framework to create a culture of excellence.”

Established in 2012, Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers is awarded for a two-year period to Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospitals. The certification was derived from the Brain Attack Coalition’s “Recommendations for Comprehensive Stroke Centers” (Stroke, 2005), “Metrics for Measuring Quality of Care in Comprehensive Stroke Centers” (Stroke, 2011) and recommendations from a multidisciplinary advisory panel of experts in complex stroke care.

Stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, ac-cording to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

To learn more about the Comprehensive Stroke Center at DHR Health, call the DHR Health Neuroscience Institute at 956/362-8500.

The Joint Commission

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

Learn more about The Joint Commission at

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. They team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases.

The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke.

The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of their offices around the country. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The familiar Heart-Check mark now helps consumers evaluate their choices in hospital care.

Each mark given to a hospital is earned by meeting specific standards for the care of patients with heart disease and/or stroke. The Heart-Check mark can only be displayed by hospitals that have achieved and defined requirements set by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

For more information on the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Hospital Accreditation Program visit

DHR Health

DHR Health was founded in 1997 to help more than 1.2 million residents resolve limited health care access challenges in a community that lacked public and county hospitals.

Today, it is a modern, 500+ bed full-service health system serving over 280,000 patients annually, with over 730 physicians and more than 1,200 nurses dedicated to offering a full-continuum of care in over 70 different specialties and subspecialties. DHR Health proudly boasts the best specialty care in the region, a 24/7 level-three trauma center, a robust clinical research division, and developing graduate medical education programs.

DHR Health has revolutionized the health care landscape of the Rio Grande Valley and continues to raise the standard of care and transform the health care delivery model for the benefit all local residents. To learn more, visit


For more information, contact Kelli Own Quin, Manager, Corporate Communications, DHR Health, at 956/362-3102 or 956/566-7335. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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