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News Room: Press Releases

Virtua Memorial again receives prestigious stroke care award

Virtua Memorial received a Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award from the American Stroke Association; the fourth successive year the Mount Holly hospital has been honored. The Get With The Guidelines award recognizes hospitals that have a dedicated stroke unit, as well as a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted through the emergency department.

The program addresses coronary disease, heart failure and stroke, with more than 1,400 hospitals across the country participating. Virtua and other hospitals were listed in a special advertisement in U.S. News & World Report to commemorate the award.

“This award puts us in an elite category of primary stroke centers that are able to consistently maintain the high standard for diagnosing and treating patients with acute stroke,” said Catherine Curley, RN, MSN, director of Virtua's Neuroscience Program of Excellence. “The Gold Award is a difficult one to achieve, and we are especially proud to earn it four years in a row.”

Virtua offers around-the-clock access to a dedicated stroke team, neuroimaging, and clot dissolving medications when appropriate. The current award reflects a two-year period of meeting national stroke care guidelines as described by the American Stroke Association.

“The staff that cares for stroke patients should be extremely proud if this accomplishment,” said James Dwyer, DO, Virtua’s Chief Medical Officer. “This award shows that we are taking care of our patients according to stringent national guidelines, which is critical in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients.”

An estimated 780,000 new or recurrent strokes occur each year in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. That’s an average of one every 40 seconds. Stroke is the number three cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer. It’s also a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

“This award is not just about the excellent treatment patients receive in the hospital,” said Stephen Kolesk, MD, Vice President and COO at Virtua Memorial. “Patients are getting the right care when they need it. Virtua also includes information on how to manage risks, which lessens the chance of a second stroke.”

Virtua Memorial, as well as Virtua’s three other hospitals, are designated as Primary Stroke Centers by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. In addition, Virtua Memorial is a JCAHO accredited stroke location.

“The American Stroke Association is pleased to recognize Virtua in its top Get With the Guidelines Program,” said Lee H. Schwalm, MD, national Get With The Guidelines Steering Committee Member, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “The goal of this initiative is to improve the quality of life and help reduce deaths and disability among patients with heart disease and stroke.”

Anyone experiencing symptoms of stroke should call 911. These include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause. Timely treatment is the key to a successful outcome and less disability from stroke.

As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, three acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, nine ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Virtua employs more than 8,700 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit or