The Steve Biko Academic Hospital has received the World Stroke Organisation Angels Diamond Award in recognition of their excellent work in acute stroke care. This is the first international award of its kind that is awarded to any South African hospital, both in the private and public sector.
The Angels Initiative is a unique healthcare initiative that helps hospitals around the world become ‘stroke-ready’ so that patients who have just suffered a stroke can be treated as quickly and effectively as possible. The initiative seeks to greatly reduce the burden of stroke for countless patients by working with hospitals to build an innovative network of stroke-ready hospitals worldwide, to reduce treatment delays and provide patients with the best acute stoke care. The Angels Awards were created to recognize hospitals that provide excellent stroke care, and to encourage hospitals to implement quality monitoring in order to improve performance. Awards criteria are based on international guidelines for treating acute stroke. Hospitals are eligible for gold, platinum, or diamond awards, with diamond representing the highest level of performance.
The neurology department at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital started engaging with the Angels Initiative at the end of 2021. In a short period, the team introduced new measures and conducted several trainings and simulations to streamline the acute management of stroke patients at the hospital. The hospital’s average door-to-needle time, which is the time when the stroke patient arrives at emergency to initiation of therapy1, is now 15 minutes.
Suffering a stroke is one of the most devastating medical emergencies that can happen to a person. Almost 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke every year2. One–third of these people die as a consequence and another third are left permanently disabled3.
John Fagan, Boehringer Ingelheim general manager and head of Human Pharma, South Africa said: “We, at Boehringer Ingelheim, believe that we can make a big difference to the quality of stroke care when we work closely with our partners and stroke-ready hospitals. Stroke is a serious condition and together we aim to provide effective stroke care to save the patients' lives and reduce the chances of permanent disability. Our Angels Initiative is a testament to our commitment to improving the lives of our patients by ensuring that the hospitals are ready to provide high-quality medical support to those in need.”
“It is a great honour to be awarded diamond status for stroke management by the World Stroke Organisation. This achievement has been a milestone in our journey and is a reflection of the relentless work our doctors have been doing to provide the best care to our patients at an international standard. We are committed to improving outcomes of stroke by ensuring that every patient admitted into our facility gets access to stroke care that will optimize their survival and recovery,” said Dr Mathabo Mathebula, CEO of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
“It is crucial that the hospital has the right diagnostic equipment and well-trained staff to offer appropriate care and treatment without any delay. Our team aims to deliver continuous enhancements, and therefore, we have implemented training and aligned with international standards to ensure better care and support to reduce the burden of stroke that affects our communities,” says Professor Mandisa Kakaza, head of neurology at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Jan van der Merwe, co-founder and project lead for The Angels Initiative, says: “Eight years ago when we started the Angels Initiative, South Africa only had a handful of hospitals that could be considered ‘stroke-ready’. Today, we have more than 170! The improvement in stroke care in South Africa is a story that has inspired other countries across the world to improve their own stroke care in ways they never thought possible.”
“I have to admit that at first even I did not believe that world-class stroke care was possible in a government hospital in South Africa. Long waiting lines at the emergency department, staff shortages and hospitals being overwhelmed with Covid were all given as valid reasons for why this should not be possible. What I have learned through implementing the Angels Initiative in countries across the world, though, is that if you find exceptional people that are driven by a purpose like Dr Louis Kroon, and you come in alongside them and provide them with support where needed, miracles can happen.”
“I know that this will not be the last award that Dr Kroon and his amazing stroke team at Steve Biko Academic Hospital will achieve; what I am interested to see is how many other hospitals in South Africa will follow in their footsteps.
Meropa Communications media release on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa