FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center recently earned a prestigious certification for its ability to handle strokes.

The Farmington hospital was named a Primary Stroke Center by Det Norske Veritas, a Norwegian company that has its U.S. headquarters in Houston.

Det Norske Veritas serves as the hospital's accreditation agency.

San Juan Regional developed an algorithm for when patients come to the emergency room with stroke symptoms.

The "stroke alert" procedures notify all appropriate departments in the hospital that a probable case of stroke has been identified and "get everyone of the same page," said Tina Biberdorf, manager of the intensive care and step down units.

"Time is brain," she said. "The faster we diagnose it, the faster we can protect the brain and get them the treatment they need."

The certification review included an analysis of the outcome of patients, assessment of care and services provided and evaluation of facilities.

"We have gone through numerous steps and changes to ensure that our stroke care is the best it can possibly be for our patients and the community," said Erin Tinker, stroke coordinator and clinical educator of critical care. "Our goals include early stroke detection, early intervention when possible and optimizing our patients' outcomes throughout their entire hospital stay and beyond."

From the onset of symptoms, San Juan Regional aims to treat patients within the recommended three and a half to four hours.


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Strokes are caused by an interruption of blood to the brain.

They are often preceded by facial drooping, arm weakness and slurred speech.

Anyone experiencing those symptoms should call 911, Biberdorf said.

"It's under recognized and not well understood by the public," she said.

A variety of maladies can contribute to stroke risk. High blood pressure and cholesterol, diseased arteries, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, smoking and cocaine use are all linked to increased risk of strokes.

San Juan Regional must complete an annual review and renewal process to maintain its certification.