RMC Awarded Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers


The Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg & Calhoun Counties was recently recognized for earning The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. The Gold Seal of Approval® and the Heart-Check mark represent symbols of quality from their respective organizations. RMC achieved recertification; its original certification was in 2012.

To achieve this recertification, RMC underwent a rigorous onsite review in December 2014. The Joint Commission experts evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements, including program management, the delivery of clinical care and performance improvement.

The Joint Commission, in conjunction with The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recently recognized the Regional Medical Center with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. RMC achieved recertification; its original certification was in 2012. From left are Melissa Thomas, MSSU Nurse Manager; Brian Kendall, MD, Chief Quality Officer; Gary Ferguson, Laboratory and Cancer Center Director; Kelly Gartman, Director of Radiology; Bryan Mros, Critical Care Director; Donna Phillips, Nursing Education Director; Micki Schurlknight, Nurse Manager Nursing Administration; Brad Holmes, Emergency Department Nurse Director; Sherry Davis, Stroke Program Coordinator; Penny Ryant, Third West/Medical Surgical Step Down/Progressive Care Nurse Director; Mohammed Alhatou, MD, Stroke Program Medical Director; Indun Whetsell, Director of Quality Management and Medical Staff Services; Julia Yawn, Vice President of Patient Care and Family Services/CNO; Tracy Sandifer, MSSU Unit Based Educator; Laura Benecke, Director of Rehabilitation Services; Kartina Harrison, Progressive Care Unit Based Educator; and Cheryl Shuler, CCU/ICU Unit Based Educator.
“The Regional Medical Center has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of stroke patients through its Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers,” said Michele Sacco, M.S., interim executive director, Certification Programs. “We commend RMC for becoming a leader in stroke care, potentially providing a higher standard of service for stroke patients in its community.”

Stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, according 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.

“We congratulate the Regional Medical Center for achieving this designation,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. “By adhering to this very specific set of treatment guidelines, RMC has clearly made it a priority to deliver high quality care to all patients affected by stroke.”

“The Regional Medical Center is pleased to receive advanced recertification from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association,” said Mohammed Alhatou, MD, medical director of RMC Primary Stroke Center. “The certification provides us with the opportunity to highlight the exceptional stroke care we provide as well as to continually strive to advance our care even further. In 2014 RMC earned the Get With The Guidelines®- Stroke Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures. These measures provide the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. RMC earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include aggressive use of medications and risk-reduction therapies aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.”

Established in 2003, Advanced Certification for Primary 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 the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers” (JAMA, 2000) and the “Revised and Updated Recommendations for the Establishment of Primary Stroke Centers” (Stroke, 2011).

About 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 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including hospitals and health care organizations that provide ambulatory and office-based surgery, behavioral health, home care, laboratory and nursing home services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The Joint Commission has two nonprofit affiliate organizations: The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare aims to solve health care’s most critical safety and quality problems and Joint Commission Resources (JCR) provides consulting services, educational services and publications. Joint Commission International, a division of JCR, accredits and certifies international health care organizations. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About 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. 4 killers. We 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 our offices around the country. Follow us 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

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