Sierra View Awarded Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification from The Joint Commission and Other Nationwide Accolades

Porterville, CA – October 11, 2021:

Sierra View Medical Center (SVMC) has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® and now holds Advanced Primary Stroke Center Certification. SVMC also received the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke GOLD PLUS with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll award. Patients from Porterville and surrounding communities can now receive nationally certified care within their local health care district.

The Joint Commission Certification

SVMC underwent a rigorous onsite review on May 21, 2021, then receiving final certification on July 21, 2021. During the visit, a Joint Commission reviewer evaluated SVMC compliance with stroke-related certification standards. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, providers, measurement experts and patients. This reviewer also conducted observations and interviews via virtual survey processes. “Primary Stroke Certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” says Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations, and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission.

South Valley Patients to Benefit

In 2020, Sierra View Medical Center cared for 161 stroke patients with a median age of 66. SVMC offers high-quality health care services to communities including Porterville, Springville, Terra Bella, Ducor, Strathmore, Lindsay, Poplar, Woodville and Pixley. Previously, patients in or near Porterville may have needed to be transferred elsewhere for advanced stroke care. Sierra View joins nearby hospitals like Kaweah Health in Visalia and Adventist Health Hanford to deliver stroke care close to home. "This certification means that we not only are bringing immediate care for patients but that we're also bringing the highest quality care to South Valley residents," says Dr. Fuentes. The South Valley accounts for a population of about 100,000 at the south end of Tulare County.

Stroke Alert at SVMC

SVMC's stroke alert is an emergency process for recognizing and treating acute stroke patients who present to SVMC. These patients receive standardized care for stroke, based on best practice. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers call ahead when transporting a stroke patient to the emergency room. Upon arrival, a stroke alert updates everyone on shift to trigger the stroke care process to do everything possible to get the patient the best care possible. Patients receive treatment based on their type of stroke. SVMC can offer pharmacological treatment for stroke, to appropriate patients, and we partner with other local stroke centers for other types of advanced care, such as for a hemorrhagic stroke.

All Hands on Deck: Housewide Effort

Sierra View Medical Center's journey to becoming an Advanced Primary Stroke Program began in 2015. SVMC created a Stroke Committee, which established a framework of standardized stroke care rooted firmly in best practice and developed policies and staff education curriculum to support the program. The multidisciplinary committee included hospital leadership (clinical and support) and individuals from care coordination teams, imaging services, staff development and education, pharmacy, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community partners. Together, they have made SVMC the Advanced Primary Stroke Center it is today. The Medical Director for the stroke program is Dr. Ramu Thiagarajan, MD, a Neurology Specialist. Dr. Thiagarajan forms part of a smaller Stroke Program team, including two nursing professionals and the hospital's Vice President of Quality & Regulatory Affairs. Stroke & Sepsis Program Coordinator Laura Soares, RN, continues to work with numerous hospital departments and says she is proud of her team for achieving The Joint Commission Certification and AHA notoriety. "I'm excited that SVMC can offer this level of distinguished quality stroke care in Porterville," says Soares.

Every Sierra View employee receives training to recognize the typical signs of a stroke. An easy-to-remember acronym (BE FAST) helps to highlight the importance of always being on the lookout for stroke signs such as Balance loss, Eyesight or vision issues, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911. The best stroke treatment is time-sensitive, and Sierra View offers patients the care they need in the convenience of their community. "To have achieved this while also heavily focusing on the pandemic and COVID-19-related patient safety measures is noteworthy," says SVMC Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs Dr. Melissa Fuentes, DHA, LCSW, CCM, CPHQ. "I think it speaks to our organization's commitment to delivering safe, high-quality care based rooted in best practices at all times."

Dr. Ramu Thiagarajan, M.D.

Laura Soares, RN

Karen Taylor, LVN

Dr. Melissa Fuentes

Dr. Ramu Thiagarajan, M.D.

Neurology Specialist

Laura Soares, RN

Stroke & Sepsis Program Coordinator,
Performance Improvement

Karen Taylor, LVN

LVN, Performance Improvement

Dr. Melissa Fuentes

SVMC VP of Quality & Regulatory Affairs

Additional National Accolades: American Heart Association (AHA) Recognition

In addition to certification from the Joint Commission, in 2021, SVMC received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke GOLD PLUS with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. The Plus Quality Award is an advanced level of recognition that allows hospitals to be receive recognition for their compliance with the Quality Measures within the Get With The Guidelines program. SVMC is dedicated to improving local stroke care and has consistently adhered to the latest scientific treatment guidelines and reported on five or more quality measures, including Stroke Education and Time to Intravenous Thrombolytic Therapy. Learn more by visiting

Preventing Stroke and Receiving Stroke Care in Porterville

Patients should speak to their primary care providers about stroke risk. Major risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, diabetes (high blood sugar), high blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), obesity and heart disease. Community members seeking stroke care for themselves or loved ones need to call 9-1-1 and local Emergency Medical Services ambulance teams will quickly transport patients to an adequate location. In Porterville, that may very well be Sierra View Medical Center. For a list of all other services available to the community through Sierra View Medical Center, please visit