ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico Hospital is receiving recognition for its efforts to treat stroke victims throughout the state. The hospital is now the state’s first comprehensive stroke center. Requirements to get the certification includes specialists to provide 24/7 treatment for stroke victims. The hospital also conducts research to provide fast care as well as using artificial intelligence to read results faster, improving outcomes for patients.

“This is not just a team effort – this is a whole-village effort,” said Torsten Rohde in a news release, RN, BSN, director of the hospital’s Stroke and Heart Failure programs. Rohde also said the stroke program brings neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, neurocritical care specialists, emergency room doctors, rehabilitation specialists, pharmacists, and specialized nursing and technical teams together.

According to a news release, incidences of stroke in New Mexico are increasing and the UNM team sees about 400 stroke cases a year, along with about 50 ruptured aneurysms. UNMH says the majority of strokes are ischemic, involving a blocked artery in the brain that starves surrounding tissue of blood.

“This is a big thing for the state,” said Michel Torbey in a news release, MD, a stroke specialist and chair of the Department of Neurology. Dr. Torbey also said UNMH is connected with nearly two dozen rural and community hospitals throughout New Mexico through the Access to Critical Cerebral Emergency Support Services (ACCESS) telemedicine program.

According to the same news release, ACCESS uses high-definition videoconferencing technology to enable emergency room doctors in hospitals to consult with UNM specialists regarding patient stroke symptoms, helping to determine whether to transport them to UNMH if needed. The news release states UNM doctors can also talk with family members or patients themselves to help determine their needs.

“Certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” said Mark Pelletier in a news release, RN, MS, The Joint Commission’s chief operating officer for Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive.

UNMH says artificial intelligence (AI) represents a big opportunity to improve outcomes for stroke patients as the systems can “read” the results of a CT brain scan to recognize a blocked artery and immediately alert doctors, speeding up the diagnostic process.