Stroke victims will have a much better chance of recovery because of new Telestroke Network technology introduced at Coulee Medical Center Tuesday.
Emergency Room nurses and a handful of other technical staff at CMC practiced using the new equipment this week in an all-day training session put on by Spokane-based Providence Telestroke Network.
The networking involves some dozen other rural hospitals in Eastern Washington.
Now stroke patients have 24-hour access to stroke specialists who are able to communicate with CMC staff, the patient and the patient’s family, in an effort to make a quick response.
Vital signs are taken in the ER and, along with the patient’s symptoms are discussed with stroke professionals at Providence within minutes after arrival at the hospital.
The rule, according to discussions, is to get information and treatment underway inside of three hours.
The new Telestroke Network provides any-time, real-time access to neurologists via a wheeled teleconference pod, equipped with two-way audio and video.
Tuesday, Aric Frank, nursing manager, played the patient, and after tests were assumed the ER was hooked up via the Telestroke Network with Dr. Cynthia Murphy taking over from Spokane.
“Stroke treatment begins with quickly and correctly diagnosing the extent of the stroke event. We need to see a patient’s eyes and motor skills, we need to hear a patient speak,” J. Scott Graham, chief executive officer of CMC stated. “With telestroke capability, a neurologist is no longer miles away but just a smile away from being there with the patient.”
“In the stroke world, we say time is brain. Once brain tissue dies, it doesn’t come back,” said Dawn Malikowski, RN, surgery/outpatient/emergency services manager at CMC. “If we can get to patients within a three-hour window from the time they deviate from their baseline normal selves, then we are more likely to be able to correctly diagnose and treat stroke events so patients can return to the same, or at least a better, quality of life.”
“This is one more thing we and other rural hospitals can offer to make it less important where the patient is and more important who is in the room, whether in reality or in virtual reality,” Graham said. “With the stroke network, our patients can truly see and be seen by a top-level specialist without traveling hours to do that in person.”
A stroke patient can have members of his family present during this process so if they need to make any decision concerning care they can participate.