Toronto (Sept. 30, 2012) - The Calgary Stroke Program continues to be one of the top stroke programs in Canada and today received a second "Stroke Services Distinction" award from Accreditation Canada. It remains the only comprehensive stroke program in the country with this status.

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute achieved Distinction status for its stroke rehabilitation program. Both organizations were the first in Canada to achieve "Distinction" in 2010 and each underwent a second complete review this summer, showing even further improvement in care across the board.

The awards were announced to more than 1,000 delegates at the Canadian Stroke Congress, which got under way here on Sunday.

"Accreditation is an important way of ensuring we provide excellent stroke rehabilitation at Toronto Rehab," says Dr. Mark Bayley, medical director of the neuro rehabilitation program at Toronto Rehab.

Only organizations that meet or exceed the highest standards of stroke care achieve Stroke Services Distinction. "The designation is a validation of what can be accomplished when we work as a team," says Dr. Andrew Demchuk, director of the Calgary Stroke Program. "The accreditation process creates a sense of teamwork and cooperation that has a legacy which lasts far beyond the actual few months that the process involves."

The Calgary Stroke Program achieved 99 per cent of all targets for the delivery of optimal care – something that Wendy Nicklin, President and CEO of Accreditation Canada, calls "an impressive achievement."

"Distinction recognizes organizations that excel in stroke care, and creates opportunities for other organizations to learn new approaches that will be helpful to them in their own work," she says. "The public truly gains the most from this level of care. To achieve Stroke Distinction is recognition of outstanding commitment to best practices, excellence and leadership in stroke services."

"The Calgary Stroke Program and Toronto Rehab serve as models for other centres in Canada," says Katie Lafferty, Executive Director of the Canadian Stroke Network.

This is What Quality Stroke Care Looks Like, a magazine developed by the Canadian Stroke Network to describe the hallmarks of the Calgary Stroke Program and to serve as a guide for other centres in Canada, was distributed to all Congress delegates. Visitors from across the country and around the world regularly come to Calgary to learn more about its work in stroke.

Stroke Services Distinction is the first disease-specific accreditation program in Canada. It was developed by Accreditation Canada and the Canadian Stroke Network to recognize leadership, clinical excellence, and innovation in stroke care. The highly specialized standards are based on the Canadian Best Practice Recommendations for Stroke Care, developed in partnership between the Canadian Stroke Network and Heart and Stroke Foundation. As part of the accreditation process, health-care centres undergo a rigorous on-site review by experts who have extensive practical experience in the field of stroke. The Canadian Stroke Congress is co-hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Consortium. The Canadian Stroke Network, is a national research network headquartered at the University of Ottawa. It includes scientists, clinicians and health-policy experts committed to reducing the impact of stroke.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke, reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. Accreditation Canada, is a not-for-profit organization that accredits health organizations in Canada and around the world. Its comprehensive accreditation program uses evidence-based standards and a rigorous peer review process to foster ongoing quality improvement. Accreditation Canada has been helping organizations improve health care quality and patient safety for more than 50 years.

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