Both of Fort Smith’s hospitals were recently recognized for outstanding care in certain fields.

Sparks Regional Medical Center has once again been recognized by the Arkansas Department of Health for excellence in stroke patient care. And Mercy Fort Smith earned an “A” grade for keeping patients safe.

The Arkansas Department of Health’s awards were given to 15 hospitals for providing defect-free stroke care during July 2016-June 2017.

Defect-free care is based on the seven American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) achievement measures of the “Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Patient Management Tool.” The measures are benchmarked according to the standards of evidence-based stroke care guidelines to ensure stroke patients receive appropriate and timely care, according to a news release from Sparks.

The AHA/ASA also recently released new guidelines on monitoring high blood pressure in adults. High blood pressure puts a person at risk for stroke and heart attack. The new definition of high blood pressure is a systolic pressure, or top number, of 130 or higher, or diastolic pressure of 80 or higher.

“The data shows that the risk for heart attack, stroke and other consequences of high blood pressure begins to occur at any level above 120 mmHg,” the release adds. “Risk doubles at 130 compared to levels below 120, according to the AHA/ASA.”

Other risk factors for stroke include diabetes, heart disease, smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. The release encouraged speaking to a doctor about these risk factors and to ensure blood pressure is properly managed.

Sparks has been a part of “Get With The Guidelines” program for more than 10 years and is annually recognized for “outstanding stroke care.” Sparks Regional Medical Center is a Gold Seal accredited Primary Stroke Center offering neurovascular medical and surgical care for patients suffering strokes and/or aneurysms.

As a Primary Stroke Center, Sparks provides advanced imaging technology and protocols, 24-hour stroke team access and seamless integration with emergency department staff and emergency medical technicians in the field to treat stroke patients fast and effectively.

Visit for more information on stroke prevention in Arkansas.

Sparks Health System includes Sparks Regional Medical Center, Sparks Medical Center — Van Buren, Sparks Clinic, Sparks PremierCare and the fully hospital-integrated Marvin Altman Fitness Center.

Mercy gets ‘A’ grade

The Leapfrog Group’s fall 2017 Hospital Safety Grades have been released and show Mercy Hospital Fort Smith and Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas having “A” grades. The group scores hospitals on how safe they keep their patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections. More than 2,600 U.S. general acute-care hospitals were assigned scores and only 832 received an A — 32 percent of those surveyed.

“We’re pleased that we continue to score well on measures of patient safety, because it’s an area where we strive for excellence every day,” Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, said in a news release. “This award acknowledges the skills and commitment of our entire team, including physicians and clinical caregivers and the co-workers who support them.”

“Patient safety is always our greatest priority and we’re happy with The Leapfrog Group’s recognition that we are succeeding,” Eric Pianalto, president of Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas, added. “Our mission is exceptional service and compassionate care, which naturally dovetails with patient safety.”

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. It is updated every six months, once in the fall and once in the spring.

Using 30 evidence-based measures of patient safety, The Leapfrog Group calculated a numerical score for all eligible hospitals in the U.S. The numerical score was then converted into one of five letter grades: A, B, C, D or F.

Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by IBM Watson Health company Truven, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.