Written by Michelle Abt | Photographed by Vincent Rios
In January 2020, Torrance Memorial Medical Center received its Comprehensive
Stroke Center (CSC) certification from DNV GL, a national health care
accreditation organization. The CSC certification—the highest level
of certification awarded by DNV GL—signifies Torrance Memorial’s
ongoing commitment to offering the most advanced stroke care for members
of the South Bay community.
This significant milestone was achieved through a team approach and a variety
of program-wide collaborative efforts that resulted in these critical
enhanced stroke treatment capabilities.
“The Comprehensive Stroke Center certification is a win-win for Torrance
Memorial and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, as well as for the entire South
Bay community,” says Shlee Song, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive
Stroke Center and Telestroke Program at Torrance Memorial and Cedars-Sinai.
“South Bay residents now have access to a team of specialists who
offer a full range of stroke treatments close to home, decreasing the
time it takes for patients to receive expert stroke care and increasing
the chances of a positive outcome.”
Through a partnership with Cedars-Sinai established in 2016, Torrance Memorial
now has specially trained neurosurgeons on staff who can perform advanced
minimally invasive and open procedures to remove blood clots, treat brain
aneurysms and control bleeding in the brain.
As part of the CSC certification process, Torrance Memorial was required
to demonstrate it is equipped to perform complex neurosurgical interventions
to treat all types of strokes, including ischemic strokes that occur when
the blood supply to the brain becomes blocked, as well as hemorrhagic
strokes that occur when a blood vessel ruptures and causes bleeding in
the brain. Torrance Memorial was also required to show hospital staff
could provide expert treatment for a brain aneurysm, which is a bulge
in a blood vessel in the brain that can cause a hemorrhagic stroke if
Paula Eboli, MD, is an endovascular neurosurgeon at Torrance Memorial who
specializes in performing a range of complex endovascular procedures.
Endovascular procedures treat problems with blood flow to the brain from
inside the blood vessels themselves, using a catheter inserted through
a small incision in the wrist or groin.
Dr. Eboli uses the latest brain and blood-vessel imaging technology to
perform procedures not previously offered at Torrance Memorial, including
clipping and percutaneous coiling to treat brain aneurysms, percutaneous
thrombectomies to remove blood clots that cause ischemic strokes, and
carotid endarterectomy and stenting to remove blockages and prop the carotid
“The partnership between Cedars-Sinai and Torrance Memorial brings
the expertise of Cedars-Sinai neurosurgeons to the South Bay, allowing
us to deliver a higher level of acute stroke care at Torrance Memorial,”
says Dr. Eboli.
In addition to being ready and able to provide the most advanced surgical
stroke treatments, Torrance Memorial is leveraging the latest Telestroke
technology in partnership with Cedars-Sinai to deliver faster stroke diagnosis
and treatment, which promotes improved outcomes for patients.
The Telestroke program provides physicians at Torrance Memorial with 24/7
access to stroke specialists at Cedars-Sinai. Using a specialized videoconferencing
system, Cedars-Sinai specialists can examine stroke patients, interpret
brain images, confirm the diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations
just as if they were at the patient’s bedside.
“Telestroke is enabling us to do everything so much faster when minutes
count,” said Dr. Song. “With Telestroke, expert help is just
Neurointensive Care Unit
Another component of the CSC certification was the establishment of Torrance
Memorial’s Neurointensive Care Unit, which provides specialized
care for patients who have experienced a stroke.
The Neurointensive Care Unit is equipped with the latest monitoring technology
and staffed by a team of specially trained nurses, neurointensivist physicians
and ancillary support professionals, such as respiratory therapists, physical
therapists, nutritionists and pharmacists.
“When patients arrive in the Neurointensive Care Unit after having
a stroke, they are facing an uncertain—and sometimes grave—health
situation. We help the patient and their family by surrounding them with
a multidisciplinary team that works together to provide compassionate,
seamless and exceptional stroke care,” says Brian Sherman, MD, board-certified
neurointensivist at Torrance Memorial. “It’s like a NASCAR
pit crew—each staff member has a job to do, but everyone is communicating
and working together in parallel.”
The combination of faster access to stroke care, the most advanced treatments
and specialized, compassionate care for patients and families in the Neurointensive
Care Unit often results in better outcomes and shorter hospital stays
“We shepherd our patients and their families through all aspects
of stroke care, combining science-based treatment with compassion to make
them feel truly cared for. It’s so satisfying for Torrance Memorial
to have a Neurointensive Care Unit where a patient can be in a coma in
the evening and wake up the next morning asking for an omelette,”
said Dr. Sherman. “It reaffirms why we come to work every day.”
A Positive Community Impact
Before Torrance Memorial became a CSC, South Bay residents who required
advanced stroke care had to be taken or transferred to another facility—sometimes
resulting in delayed treatment that placed patients at a higher risk of
increased brain damage that could lead to physical or cognitive impairments.
Now, when seconds count, South Bay patients can receive faster access to
advanced stroke care right in their community, without having to go to
a facility farther from home.
“When it comes to stroke care, time is brain—and the faster
someone receives treatment, the better their chance of a positive outcome,”
says Marco Pech, MSN, RN, SCRN, stroke program coordinator at Torrance
Memorial. “It’s amazing to see patients leave Torrance Memorial
deficit-free with their loved ones after having a serious stroke.”
“Being a Comprehensive Stroke Center is making a statement to our
community that we offer the highest level of stroke care and have all
the systems in place to support patients and families throughout a neurological
emergency,” says Dr. Sherman. “At Torrance Memorial, we provide
specialized stroke care from the emergency department through follow-up,
and we anticipate each patient’s needs from day one.”
Additionally, having access to comprehensive stroke care close to home
means families do not have to travel long distances to care for their
“Having a patient transferred to a facility outside their community
adds stress for the patient and family, especially during a lengthy hospital
stay,” says Dr. Song. “Providing care close to home helps
patients recover, allows family members to visit and eases stress.”
Torrance Memorial’s stroke program staff all agree the hospital’s
long-awaited CSC certification was the result of a commitment to provide
the best community stroke care and enhanced capabilities and is due to
the outstanding collaboration between Torrance Memorial staff, as well
as between Torrance Memorial and Cedars-Sinai.
“The co-led program between Torrance Memorial and Cedars-Sinai allows
us to combine our resources to treat patients at Torrance Memorial and
if needed, expedite transfer to our partnered colleagues at Cedars-Sinai,”
says Dr. Sherman. “Expert care can come to Torrance Memorial with
“Our administration was strongly supportive of our efforts to obtain
the CSC certification, including putting together local donor support—they
were always coming from a place of ‘yes,’” says Dr.
Song. “The Lundquist family has invested in the idea of delivering
expert care in the region establishing the Lundquist Neurosciences Institute.”
“It takes a village to have a successful stroke program,” said
Pech. “Many people worked diligently to provide South Bay residents
with this level of stroke care.”