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UNC Hospitals will now be attracting patients from all across the Southeast for something that only it has — a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Dr. David Huang, director of UNC Hospitals Stroke Center, said the center is just the 15th in the nation to be certified.

“We want the message to go out to the citizens of North Carolina that there’s a center here that provides the level of stroke care that is as high as they can get elsewhere,” Huang said.

Huang said the certification brings high prestige that will bring in patients from all around the area.

“There will be many more coming down the pike, but right know we’re proud to say we’re the first in the state,” Huang said.

He added that certified stroke centers have certain specialists, resources, surgeons and nurses available at all times.

“They are centers that pretty much provide everything, meaning that there’s not a stipulation where a strong patient would come here and we would say, ‘Oh we need to ship you somewhere else,’” he said.

Sten Solander, a radiologist who works for the center, said he thinks the certification is proof that the hospital’s hard work has paid off.

“People that have been working with us have done a tremendous job and it was obviously successful as far as getting everything together.”

Huang added that patients can now come to UNC’s center knowing that they are getting the highest level of care.

The process began with an initial application in July to the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, and the hospital was then surveyed in November.

The joint commissioners gave a set of standards that the hospitals had to meet. Once the hospital met those standards, the commission surveyed patient charts, interviewed staff and looked at staff credentials.

The center currently diagnoses close to 800 patients a year with symptoms of stroke. Patients come from all over the state, as well as South Carolina and Virginia.

Susan Wilson, a stroke nurse practitioner with UNC Hospitals, said the certification is the next step in regards to patient safety and providing all levels of stroke care.

“It also serves to not just our community but to outside hospitals in the state that we’re here for you, we’re here to help you with your patients,” she said.

Now, area hospitals will receive benefits when they refer patients to UNC’s center, Wilson said.

“That’s been our mission all along — to provide education to some of the small hospitals.”

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