Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is among eight Greater Toronto Area hospitals to receive the inaugural 2023-2024 Designated Best Practice Stroke Unit Award from Toronto Stroke Networks. We are excited to receive this recognition and take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated interdisciplinary team who deliver exceptional quality and compassionate care on SHN’s Integrated Stroke Unit.

The Integrated Stroke Unit is part of our Nanji Foundation Stroke Centre of Excellence at Birchmount Hospital, which was launched in April 2020 with the goal of giving Scarborough access to seamless stroke care services, improved outcomes, and a better healthcare experience.

“The creation of the Stroke Centre was one of SHN’s first steps in transforming how we deliver care to our community. This award from Toronto Stroke Networks reflects how successful we have been in implementing services over the last three years,” said Trixie Williams, Associate Vice President of Clinical Services and Director of Cardiology and Stroke Care at SHN.

“We are so proud of this achievement, which is a testament to our commitment to providing leading stroke care for Scarborough.”

The Designated Best Practice Stroke Unit Award was presented at Toronto Stroke Networks’ Annual Collaboration meeting on October 31. For the first year of the award, the criteria set to earn it was to meet a minimum of 50% of CorHealth Ontario’s ten stroke unit definition components. Every year the criteria will incrementally increase by 10 percent.

SHN is thrilled to announce that our Integrated Stroke Unit achieved a leading 90% of CorHealth Ontario’s components for the year of 2023-2024.

CorHealth Ontario Stroke Unit Definition Components

  1. Minimum volume of admitted stroke patients per year
  2. Interprofessional team composition in progress
  3. 7 day per week full service IP team availability/model
  4. Stroke care training and expertise
  5. Co-location of stroke unit beds
  6. Prioritization of stroke unit beds for stroke care
  7. Pathways to transition out of acute stroke unit
  8. Performance measurement, monitoring and reporting
  9. On-site availability of diagnostic resources
  10. Patient, family and caregiver education

“From the start, we have been focused on putting in place a robust model of care. This has included staffing and training, facility and space planning, equipment and resources, best practices and standards, and seamless delivery of services — from emergency to acute care, to post-acute and outpatient care settings. We have our aim set on meeting all CorHealth Ontario stroke unit definition components as we continue to grow and drive our program forward,” said Dr. Derek Smith, Division Head of Neurology at SHN.

In Ontario, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and third leading cause of death. There are an estimated 25,500 new stroke events every year, with 15,500 patients admitted to hospital. Research on stroke unit care demonstrates that access to stroke care can save and restore thousands of lives every year in Ontario.

Potentially, over 1,000 deaths could be prevented and 2,000 more people could regain independence with improved access to stroke unit care​. This is the impact that stroke units at all of the award-winning hospitals are making for patients across the GTA.

Here at SHN in 2022/23, we saw almost 1,000 emergency department stroke cases across our three hospitals, and more than 500 patients required specialized care on our integrated stroke unit at Birchmount with 34 percent receiving inpatient rehab.

“Congratulations to our peer hospitals who join us in receiving this inaugural award. Collectively, we are improving care and optimizing quality of life for patients and families across Toronto.” said Jemini Abraham, Stroke Program Manager at SHN. “I would especially like to thank our dedicated interprofessional stroke unit team at SHN, including our nurses, allied health professionals, and physicians. Their dedication to providing exceptional quality stroke care to our Scarborough community is endless.”