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New staff at Houston Methodist The Woodlands aims for higher stroke care accreditation

August 29, 2018

Since opening their doors just over a year ago, the neuro-sciences team at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital has made it clear they’re aiming high by earning their primary stroke certification.

This means that the team has been recognized that they can treat stroke patients effectively and in a timely manner, with a good outcome.

Yet, the team isn’t stopping there.

They’re going after the next step — trying to achieve a coveted comprehensive stroke center designation — with the help of two additions: Dr. Nhu Bruce and Dr. Sabih Effendi.

A comprehensive stroke center is all about keeping patient care in-house.

“When someone comes in with their stroke symptoms, a stroke team is activated. We give effective treatment right away. There’s also a subset: we can quickly assess and give surgical procedure if necessary,” Bruce said.

This continuity of care may not happen at other hospitals, Bruce explained. For example, at a non-comprehensive center, a patient may have to wait for another doctor to travel to the hospital, or the patient may instead be transported to another facility for care.

The doctors said they are starting the comprehensive certification process within the next couple weeks: by declaring to the accrediting body, Det Norske Veritas, that they are ready.

According to Effendi, the center will function like a comprehensive center and be evaluated in the coming year through data on their stroke cases and outcomes.

“If you get good grades, then you get the stamp that you’re officially comprehensive,” Effendi said.

Individually, both doctors said they were excited to have joined the team and are ready to charge ahead.

Originally from San Diego, Bruce was tabbed because she has experience building a stroke program. She helped create a primary stroke center in Huntsville, Texas.

Bruce said her role of medical director is exciting because in the position, she can better look at policies and outcomes in the stroke center and build a strong program.

“It feels like we’ve been preparing for this for a long time. I want to get busy and dive in, but right now we’re feeling the waters,” Bruce said.

Bruce is a specialist in general and vascular neurology, and sees patients dealing with headaches and tremors as well as those affected by a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

Bruce said she’s excited for patients to experience what she calls “inclusive” care at the hospital.

“Everyone is here. No one wants to have a stroke, but you want patients to have a good experience and a good outcome,” she said.

For Effendi, joining the team is like returning home in a literal sense. While he is a dual-trained cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgeon, he is originally from The Woodlands. Effendi specializes in complex cranial surgeries as well as less invasive techniques for handling aneurysms and interventional stroke procedures.

Effendi said he wants to make sure that, in addition to conducting procedures and having good outcomes, families are educated about their loved ones.

“A lot of my time is spent educating the family and explaining the prognosis to them,” Effendi said. “(Neurological diseases) affect a patient’s functionality and ability to talk and move, so it’s important that the family also gets support.”

Both doctors said building the program has been a good challenge.

“Even though we’re still slowly building the program, it’s been a lot of fun setting up protocols and doing practice runs. Everyone is excited and ready to build this,” Effendi added. “If I say there’s a stroke patient, you’ve got about 100 people ready to go.”

Trent Fulin, vice president of operations Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital, said that in order to lead medicine in this region, the hospital needs to have these types of comprehensive services on-site.

“It takes a team to truly build this program. This has been our dream here for a long time, and we feel like we’ve got the right fit with (Bruce and Effendi),” Fulin said.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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