Milwaukee hospital awarded stroke center certification

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans, but one Milwaukee hospital is making strides toward comprehensive care.

With stroke care available 24/7, 365, Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital, earlier this month, was certified as one of the best in the state to treat stroke patients.

"Instead of hoping for a great outcome with these stroke patients, we really expect it," said Dr. Daniel Gibson, director of neurointerventional surgery with Ascension Wisconsin.

It is a designation given to hospitals that can treat the most complex stroke cases: The Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification, awarded by The Joint Commission.

"The neurosurgical and neurologic care exists in that facility to provide the best possible chance for patients to have great outcomes," Gibson said.

Dr. Daniel Gibson

The course of care, sometimes, is identified in seconds. Gibson said patients are screened using RAPID Artificial Intelligence technology.

"Faster than any person could process and interpret images, they're being sent to servers throughout southeast Wisconsin. There's an artificial intelligence software that analyzes it. When it suspects there is a treatable stroke, it will send me an automated alert, through my Apple Watch or my iPhone in real-time," said Gibson.

In November, it's how Gibson was alerted that Jeff DeMatthew was having a stroke.

"I felt like I needed fresh air," Jeff DeMatthew said. "I got up, walked to the end of the conference table, and I went down on all four hands and knees."

Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee

Working at the time, Jeff DeMatthew was taken by ambulance to Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine where he was screened, then flown by helicopter to Ascension Columbia St. Mary's for treatment. 

"He had significant neurological impairment," said Leneya DeMatthew, Jeff DeMatthew's wife.

There, Gibson was waiting. He would need to perform an emergency procedure to remove the clot.

Leneya and Jeff DeMatthew

Within 15 minutes of starting the procedure, Leneya DeMatthew received a phone call from doctors she won't soon forget.

"I had full use of my left arm and leg immediately," Jeff DeMatthew said.

Partially paralyzed and unresponsive upon arrival, Jeff DeMatthew walked out of the hospital within 48 hours -- with a new lease on life.

"I’m just so grateful Dr. Gibson was able to do this procedure for me. I’m almost certain I would have died without it," said Jeff DeMatthew.

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Ascension Columbia St. Mary's is now one of four hospitals in Wisconsin with the Comprehensive Stroke Center designation from The Joint Commission.

Also on that list: UW Hospital, Aurora St. Luke's, and Froedtert.

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