AHA applauds Wyoming's stroke, STEMI law

Wyoming hospitals that achieve accreditation by nationally recognized accrediting bodies for care of STEMI and stroke will now receive public recognition from the Wyoming Health Department. In what an American Heart Association (AHA) official called “a great first step,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed a bill requiring the public recognition on Feb. 28.

According to Douglas Dunsavage, director of advocacy and policy campaigns for the southwest affiliate of the AHA, the AHA is working to develop systems of care for stroke and STEMI, particularly in rural areas. As an initial step in the development of systems of care, the AHA encourages public recognition of facilities that go through the process of seeking and achieving accreditation. The law calls for recognition of hospitals certified as STEMI receiving centers or referring centers by the Society for Cardiovascular Patient Care, and of hospitals certified as primary or comprehensive stroke centers by the Joint Commission.

According to Dunsavage, public recognition enhances quality by increasing “motivation, communication and collaboration.” Once a larger hospital is recognized, it may spur other hospitals to seek similar recognition. But quality of care benefits are felt throughout the state, he said, as substantive interaction between the smaller, more rural hospitals and the recognized centers increases and improves.

“The small facilities may contact the larger center to say, ‘What can we do, even as a rural hospital that won’t ever have a neurologist on duty 24 hours a day, what can we do to improve stroke care or cardiovascular care here?'” Dunsavage remarked.

The new law is also timely, he explained, because the AHA recently received a $7.1 million Project Lifeline grant to work on developing a STEMI system of care in Wyoming. The emphasis on public recognition of quality of care for STEMI dovetails with the organization’s plans to develop STEMI transport protocols and pursue other activities such as data collection, statewide registries and other infrastructure to improve STEMI treatment.