Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital recently received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.


The Get With The Guidelines quality awards recognize a hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. To qualify for Target: StrokeSM designation, a hospital must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.


“We’re honored to be recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association,” said Keith Barber, chief executive officer, Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital and senior vice president, Houston Methodist. “At Houston Methodist Willowbrook, our focus is providing unparalleled, patient-centered care for the Northwest Houston community. Our stroke care team is committed to providing quality, advanced stroke treatments to patients quickly and safely.”


According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. As a certified Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, the specialists at Houston Methodist Willowbrook take a coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to diagnose and treat stroke as quickly as possible to ensure the best possible recovery for each patient.


Since 2017, Houston Methodist Willowbrook has been using telemedicine as part of its approach to stroke care. With telemedicine, a vascular neurologist can assess a patient who arrives at the emergency room exhibiting symptoms of stroke by video conference and quickly diagnose the patient. The hospital is using telemedicine at its main ER as well as its two emergency care centers in Spring and in Cypress. Kasey Gildersleeve, M.D., medical director of the Houston Methodist Willowbrook Primary Stroke Center, has previously served as a neurologist on call with the telemedicine stroke care program.


“Traditionally, when a patient arrives at the emergency room exhibiting signs of stroke, if a neurologist is not on site, the emergency care team will discuss the patient’s symptoms with the specialist by phone. Video conferencing allows the neurologist to visually assess the patient’s symptoms in real time even when they’re not on site. The patient and their family members can interface with specialist during the assessment. It creates a better standard of care,” said Gildersleeve.


The Houston Methodist Willowbrook team also regularly participates in community events and awareness campaigns to educate the community about the signs and symptoms of stroke. Gildersleeve says to use the FAST acronym (Face drooping; Arm weakness; Slurred speech; Time to call 911) to remember the warning signs of stroke.


“For patients with stroke, the faster it’s treated at a hospital, the better the outcome. Recognizing the warning signs is a crucial first step in getting immediate medical care. If someone is showing signs of stroke, don’t wait. Call 911 immediately,” said Gildersleeve. “Our goal at Houston Methodist Willowbrook is to minimize the devastating effects of stroke as much as possible while also providing patients and their families the education and tools they need to begin the road to recovery.”