sfgeneral.jpgSan Francisco General Hospital became the first acute-care medical center in the country to become certified for treatment of traumatic brain injuries, Mayor Ed Lee’s office announced Monday.

The hospital received the certification from the Joint Commission, an independent body that accredits and certifies hospitals nationwide, after an on-site survey on Sept. 21 as part of the voluntary certification process, according to the mayor’s office.

“It is gratifying that our commitment to traumatic brain injury patients from all walks of life has been recognized as meeting the highest national standards,” hospital CEO Sue Currin said in a statement.

The hospital is already internationally recognized for its expertise in traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, according to the mayor’s office. Hospital neurotrauma specialists treat more than 1,200 patients with those injuries each year.

One such patient is Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage when he was assaulted outside a Los Angeles ballpark following the March 31 season opener against the Dodgers.

Doctors in Los Angeles treated Stow for seven weeks until his condition improved enough to allow for his transfer on May 16 to the Bay Area where, still comatose, he came under the care of Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Geoffrey Manley and his neurotrauma team at San Francisco General Hospital.

“I truly believe this new certification effort by The Joint Commission can lead to improved care for traumatic brain-injured patients across the United States,” Manley said in a statement.

The neurosurgical team performs about 300 brain surgery operations annually and also actively manages patients’ critical neurotrauma care.

Six months after the attack, Stow is beginning to communicate through facial expressions and short sentences. Last week, he sat outside and felt the sun on his face for the first time since the beating.

Mayor Ed Lee said that the stories of patients like Stow have “captured the public’s attention” and made the public aware of the hospital’s work.

“I have seen for myself the great work that San Francisco General Hospital’s doctors, nurses and administrators and staff do for brain-injured patients,” Lee said.

San Francisco Director of Public Health Barbara Garcia echoed Lee’s sentiments, saying “it is a testament to the hard work of the (hospital’s) team that their professionalism, compassion, perseverance and patient advocacy has been acknowledged and will set an example for the nation.”

The hospital is the city’s only trauma center and serves some 100,000 patients annually.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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