University Hospital’s Stroke Center certified as capable of treating the most complex stroke patients

The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association certify University Health System as a comprehensive stroke center

(SAN ANTONIO, TX March 25, 2016) University Hospital has been certified as a comprehensive stroke center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, becoming one of only three hospitals statewide and about 100 across the country to be so recognized by The Joint Commission.

Comprehensive stroke centers are an elite group of providers capable of treating the most complex stroke patients. As a group, they are responsible for setting the national agenda in highly specialized stroke care.

“Since our community recognized several years ago that improved stroke care should be a priority, University Health System’s goal has been to become recognized as a center of excellence for treating patients with even the most complex strokes, said George B. Hernández Jr., president and CEO of University Health System. “Along with our physician partners at the UT Health Science Center, we are proud to have achieved that goal. ” 

University Hospital became a primary stroke center in 2010, demonstrating it could treat the majority of stroke patients quickly and capably. Rules for certifying higher-level comprehensive stroke centers were finalized two years later.

A comprehensive stroke center must also offer more specialized diagnostic and treatment options, a dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit and specially-trained staff, to include:

  • The availability of advanced imaging techniques, including MRI and MRA (magnetic resonance arteriogram), computed tomography angiography, digital subtraction angiography and transcranial Doppler ultrasound 
  • The availability of physicians and staff trained in vascular neurology, neurosurgery and endovascular procedures
  • Around-the-clock availability of personnel, imaging, operating room and endovascular facilities
  • Neuroscience ICU facilities and capabilities
  • Experience and expertise treating patients with large ischemic strokes (caused by blood clots), intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding inside the brain) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue covering the brain)

“By achieving this advanced certification, University Hospital has thoroughly demonstrated the greatest level of commitment to the care of its patients with a complex stroke condition, said Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president of The Joint Commission. “Certification is a voluntary process, and The Joint Commission commends University Hospital for successfully undertaking this challenge to elevate the standard of its care for the community it serves.”

Dr. Lee Birnbaum, medical director of the Stroke Center at University Health System, is the only board-certified vascular neurologist in San Antonio, and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the UT Health Science Center. Dr. Birnbaum, along with neurosurgeons Drs. Ramesh Grandhi and Dr. Jeremiah Johnson, offer a number of surgical and minimally-invasive procedures for removing blood clots from the brain and repairing stroke damage. Dr. Grandhi and Dr. Johnson also are assistant professors of neurosurgery at UT Health Science Center.

University Hospital’s Neuroscience ICU, located on the eighth floor of the Sky Tower, has oversight by a team of neurointensive physicians and midlevel providers. University Health System’s Reeves Rehabilitation Center helps patients return to the highest level of recovery possible.

In Texas, stroke centers are designated by the Department of State Health Services based on certification from The Joint Commission or two other accrediting bodies. One other San Antonio hospital has been designated a comprehensive stroke center by the state.

About University Health System:

University Health System is a nationally recognized academic and research hospital and network of outpatient healthcare centers. U.S. News & World Report has ranked University Hospital consistently as the best hospital in San Antonio, sixth-best in Texas and among the top 50 in the nation in the care of patients with kidney disease. University Health System is committed to delivering patient-centered, culturally competent and high-quality healthcare for adults and children based on a strong foundation of outcomes‐based research and innovative teaching. University Hospital is the premier Level I trauma center for South Texas, and the Health System is the region’s only healthcare organization to earn Magnet designation – the Gold Standard in patient care – from the American Nurses Association.

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 evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 10,600 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,600 other health care organizations that provide long term care, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also certifies more than 2,400 disease-specific care programs such as stroke, heart failure, joint replacement and stroke rehabilitation, and 400 health care staffing 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. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 3 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 association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country.

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