East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Primary Stroke Center Certification.

EAMC underwent a rigorous, onsite review on April 8, 2022. During the visit, a Joint Commission reviewer evaluated compliance with related certification standards; for example:  initiation and delivery of stroke patient care, utilization of current evidence-based guidelines of stroke care, continuing staff and provider stroke specific education and timeliness of stroke specific patient care metrics. Joint Commission standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts and patients. The reviewer also conducted onsite observations and interviews.

“Primary Stroke Center Certification recognizes health care organizations committed to fostering continuous quality improvement in patient safety and quality of care,” sayd Mark Pelletier, RN, MS, chief operating officer, Accreditation and Certification Operations and chief nursing executive, The Joint Commission. “We commend East Alabama Medical Center for using certification to reduce variation in its clinical processes and to strengthen its program structure and management framework for stroke patients.”

“We congratulate EAMC for this outstanding achievement,” sayd Nancy Brown, chief executive officer, the American Stroke Association. “This certification reflects its commitment to providing the highest quality of care for stroke patients.”

“Having a certified stroke program is something we have dreamed about for years,” said Laura Grill, East Alabama Health president and CEO. “Despite the pandemic, we were finally able to put the pieces together over the past couple of years by adding a highly qualified neurohospitalist in Dr. Nojan Valadi, and a trusted nurse practitioner in Jayme Gardner, CRNP, FNP-C. They are both very passionate about providing a high level of stroke care for our patients and leading EAH’s multi-disciplinary stroke team.”

Grill says, “Without this team, and our specially trained registered nurses and ancillary staff in our emergency departments, critical care units, and designated stroke unit, this certification, and most importantly, excellence of care for our stroke population could not be achieved. We want to be the provider of choice for our community and achieving this designation means fewer patients have to go outside of this region to receive top-notch stroke care.”  

EAMC diligently prepared for the survey for approximately 18 months. This preparation, spearheaded by Valadi and Gardner, included activities such as: developing stroke-specific order sets, guidelines and protocols based on current evidence-based guidelines; providing dedicated stroke education to all EAMC staff; comprising a multidisciplinary stroke team; designating stroke care clinical leaders; and facilitating community education to promote stroke awareness. Because of strong clinical leadership, administrative support, a multidisciplinary stroke team  and staff engagement, EAMC is now a Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center. 

For more information, please visit The Joint Commission website.


East Alabama Health encompasses East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, EAMC-Lanier in Valley, the Spencer Cancer Center in Opelika, the Auburn Medical Pavilion and a host of other key medical clinic and practices that help provide a continuum of care to patients throughout an 11-county area. EAMC is a 314-bed regional referral hospital with a 26-bed Skilled Nursing Facility, while EAMC-Lanier provides inpatient services as well as a nursing home, an acute rehab unit and an ambulatory surgery center. East Alabama Health employs about 3,500 employees and is the second largest employer in the region, trailing only Auburn University. For more information, visit