UMC Makes History as Borderland’s First Comprehensive Stroke Center

For the first time, El Pasoans can access the highest-level stroke treatment available without having to leave home. On Friday, March 9, University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), a teaching hospital and affiliate of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), announced its designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission (TJC). UMC is the first and only hospital in El Paso with this designation, with the closest certified hospitals being hundreds of miles away in San Antonio and Phoenix.

This designation, which takes years to accomplish, requires hospitals to demonstrate ability to provide 24/7 neurointervention, stroke, neurocritical care and neurology coverage.

“Designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission means that our institution has the technical and medical capabilities to care for complex stroke patients,” said Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., chair of TTUHSC El Paso’s Department of Neurology and UMC’s neurocritical care medical director.

“From a training and education standpoint, this designation exposes learners, such as residents and students, to the diagnosis and treatment of these patients,” he said. “In addition, TJC designation requires involvement in clinical research—that is, the advancement of knowledge in cerebrovascular disease, which can only benefit the community.”

As an affiliate of TTUHSC El Paso, UMC’s Texas Tech Physicians are also faculty members in the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM). This gives medical students and residents a unique opportunity to train in an environment where they will be exposed to extreme cases, better preparing them for what they may encounter in their careers as physicians.

“The comprehensive stroke center designation will deliver a positive impact to a region making great strides in improving health care access and education for its residents,” said Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of TTUHSC El Paso and dean of the PLFSOM.

“First and foremost, for our patients, it means they now have access to the best care available—right here in El Paso—for even the most complex cases,” said Dr. Lange. “For our students and residents, it means they get exposure to the best training opportunities, facilities and state-of-the-art diagnosing and imaging tools. For the city and the region, it elevates health care education on the border, making us competitive with other educational institutions across the country when it comes to stroke care.”

In addition to its designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, UMC is the only Level 1 trauma center in the region, making El Paso a national model for patient care and education.

“In partnership with physicians from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, along with our UMC Neurocritical Care team of physicians, nurses, techs and others, UMC now brings the pinnacle of complex stroke care and readiness to El Paso—a level of care sought by hospitals across the nation,” said UMC President and CEO Jacob Cintron.

For more information about the Comprehensive Stroke Center certification, visit UMC’s website.

Photos by UMC.