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HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital receives national recognition for high-quality stroke care

July 06, 2022 

Eau Claire, Wis. – HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is proud to receive the 2022 American Heart Association’s (AHA) Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke GOLD Plus Quality Achievement Award. It recognizes HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines, ultimately leading to more lives saved and reduced disability. It also recognizes the hospital for its work in providing education to patients to help them manage their health and rehabilitation at home after receiving stroke treatment.

“This is such an honor,” said HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital Stroke Program Coordinator, Annie Letkiewicz. “Our hospital is a Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center and the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke program from AHA makes it easier for our teams to put proven knowledge and guidelines to work every day to improve outcomes and provide exceptional care to stroke patients.”

Approximately every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke, and stroke is the number five leading cause of disability in the United States, according to AHA.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Every second the brain is without oxygen two million brain cells die.

“Early stroke detection is crucial,” says Dr. Jacques Tham, an interventional radiologist on staff at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital. “We see better survival rates, minimized disability and faster recovery times for patients who receive treatment quickly.”

Among treatment options for patients experiencing a stroke is a clot-busting medicine called Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) which can dissolve a stroke-causing clot. When tPA is not effective or cannot be used, a minimally invasive clot-retrieval procedure may be an option. This procedure can break up a clot and remove it from the brain after the onset of stroke symptoms. Dr. Tham performs this procedure at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and says it is extremely rewarding to see patients begin to talk or move their affected arm and leg again, sometimes within minutes of removing the clot from the brain. HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is the only facility in the area to offer this treatment.

The simple acronym BE FAST can help identify someone who may be having a stroke:

        B – Balance difficulty: Sudden loss of balance or coordination, weakness or dizziness.

        E – Eye changes: Sudden onset of vision changes in one or both eyes.

        F – Face drooping: Sudden onset of facial drooping, usually on one side.

        A – Arm weakness: Sudden weakness or numbness in the arm, leg or face, usually on one side of the body.

        S – Speech difficulty: Sudden onset of trouble speaking or difficulty in understanding speech.

        T – Terrible headache: Sudden onset on severe headache with no known cause.

The onset of any of these symptoms requires immediate medical attention – call 9-1-1.

For more details about emergency stroke care at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, 900 W. Clairemont Ave., visit:



About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.

About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries,  and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital receives national recognition for high-quality stroke care
Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department HSHS Wisconsin