(Missoula Current) Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula notched two achievements this month after being designated as a “Top Heart Center,” followed by recognition as an advanced primary stroke center.

According to the hospital, certification as an advanced primary stroke center is only awarded to hospitals that make “exceptional efforts” to foster better outcomes by meeting the specialized needs of stroke patients.

“The hospitalist group at St. Pat's is proud of the role we play in ensuring that patients admitted with stroke receive the best possible care and follow up,” said Dr. Christi Richard, the hospital's interim stroke center medical director. “The Primary Stroke Center Certification is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all members of the SPH stroke care team.”

Stroke is one of the leading causes of serious disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts.

Access to specialized stroke care is critical to reduce the overall physical and psychological burdens of stroke. Primary Stroke Center Certification is given to hospitals that provide emergency stroke care, acute stroke treatments and steps to reduce additional strokes and recovery.

“Clot retrieval for large vessel occlusive stroke is one of the greatest developments in medical care in the 21st century and has dramatically improved the treatment of stroke,” said Dr. Mark Elliott, an interventional radiologist at St. Pats. “We have been providing this life changing invasive procedure for over a decade and look forward to continuing to provide this cutting-edge therapy.”

Providence St. Patrick Hospital also received a “Top Heart Center” designation this month from US News & World Report. The designation includes “high performing” status for aortic valve surgery, heart attack and heart failure.

“We are proud of our cardiact team and all our caregivers who work diligently to provide the best care for our patients,” said Kirk Bodlovic, the interim chief executive for Providence Montana. “Recognition like this reflects our commitment to clinical excellence and outstanding patient care.”