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Neuro Update

Penn State Hershey named Comprehensive Stroke Center

Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s designation as the only comprehensive stroke center in central Pennsylvania means that patients who require treatment beyond administration of the clot-busting tPA drug can get the care they need.

Several hospitals in the central Pennsylvania region have now become certified or primary stroke centers [see graphic for explanation on the differences between certifications].

Many hospitals have increased their rates of diagnosis and tPA administration as a result of a telemedicine partnership with Penn State Hershey.

Still, about a quarter of stroke patients need advanced interventions that only an academic or comprehensive stroke center like Penn State Hershey can provide.

Kevin Cockroft, MD, professor of neurosurgery, radiology and public health sciences and co-director of Penn State Hershey Stroke Center, said no other hospital in the area has 24/7 on-site neurosurgeons with the ability to thread catheters to the brain to pull out clots or perform endovascular surgical procedures to treat aneurysms and blood vessel malformations that cause hemorrhagic strokes.

“It can make a huge difference between a good functional outcome and not,” he said. “As a comprehensive stroke center, we have to be able to offer these services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

In addition to a dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit, Penn State Hershey Stroke Center educates pre-hospital emergency medical personnel on diagnosing the type and severity of a stroke so they know when to take patients to a closer, non-comprehensive medical center versus when they should go directly to Penn State Hershey.

“Many times, they will go to a primary stroke center first for evaluation and then they get sent on for more advanced care,” Cockroft said. “But time is lost stopping somewhere else first.”

According to stroke program manager Kathy Morrison, RN, Penn State Hershey is one of only 50-some comprehensive stroke centers nationwide.

“It’s a badge of honor because of the stringent review process,” she said. “To be designated a Comprehensive Stroke Center, you have to show not only that you are giving excellent care and tracking patient outcomes beyond discharge, but also that you have a lot of research involvement and are educating the professional and general community.”


A head-and-shoulders photo of Kevin M. Cockroft, MD, MSc, FAANS, FACS, FAHA

Kevin M. Cockroft, MD, MSc, FAANS, FACS, FAHA

Co-Director, Penn State Health Stroke Center
Interim Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Penn State College of Medicine
Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery, Radiology and Public Health Sciences
Phone: 717-531-3828
Fellowship: Interventional/Vascular, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.; Neurological Surgery, Stanford University Hospital, Stanford, Calif.
Residency: Neurological Surgery, The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
Medical School: Cornell University Medical College, New York, N.Y.
Connect with Kevin M. Cockroft, MD, MSc, FAANS, FACS, FAHA, on Doximity

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Penn State Neuroscience Institute fosters collaboration among the neuroscience-related departments and divisions within Penn State Health and Penn State College of Medicine.

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Assure excellence in basic and clinical research studies that increase our understanding of the normal and diseased brain.

Promote the translation of research findings into new treatments for neurological disease.

Improve the care of patients with neurological and neurobehavioral diseases.

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