MVHC Adds Telestroke Technology

December 30, 2016

Minnesota Valley Health Center Adds Telestroke Technology

Dec. 2, 2016 (Le Sueur, MN) – Patients who come to the Minnesota Valley Health Center (MVHC) Emergency Department (ED) with stroke symptoms, can now see a stroke neurologist at any time of the day.  Thanks to telestroke technology, the MVHC care team can now greatly decrease the window of time needed to asses and begin stroke treatment.

MVHC is now equipped with a special video technology that allows a stroke neurologist from one of Allina Health's certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers to examine a patient who's miles away at the MVHC ED. This partnership allows accurate and prompt diagnosis of stroke so that important treatment can begin. “It’s extremely beneficial to the patient and family to have a stroke neurologist available 24/7,” said Kim Putz, RN, DON at MVHC Hospital. Time is a major factor in the treatment of a stroke because of the potential damage an active stroke can cause in the brain, she explained, adding, “Time is brain.”

The TeleStroke Network provides access to the stroke neurologist within minutes of the patient’s arrival. “This service can truly be life saving. It provides patients direct access to specialized care,” Putz said.

Detection of a stroke usually is made by a patient’s family or a friend. What happens in response can be key to survival and recovery.

“Patients, their friends or families who suspect a stroke as with any other medical emergency should always call 911. Notifying EMS (Emergency Medical Services) to transport the patient to the hospital allows for earlier initiation of the treatment process as the EMS team can notify the ED of a possible stroke patient on the way to the hospital,” Putz said.

When the ED physician evaluates the patient and confirms a probable stroke, it sets off an in-house stroke alert. The neurologist (a stroke specialist), who carries a specially outfitted laptop when on call, is contacted, and a team of caregivers is coordinated. The ED physician and the neurologist coordinate care as more information is obtained and the Telestroke cart with the videoconferencing equipment is brought into the room.

The Telestroke camera linking the patient and neurologist can be run by the physician or a nurse. Putz said the ED nurses underwent extensive training prior to implementation and will have ongoing requirements to stay current.

MVHC had two stroke alerts in the first week after the network was initiated and a third patient since then.  Kari Wallace, RN, is the Stroke Program Coordinator, and said that the patients and families gave very positive feedback and they have all experienced positive outcomes. All three patients noted that they appreciated being able to meet with the stroke neurologist so quickly after they were admitted to the MVHC ED.  Two of the patients were transferred to Allina and met in person with the stroke neurologist who they initially met using the telestroke technology.  All three patients are now home.  

Identifying the signs and symptoms of a stroke is an important step in saving brain.

The FAST test for warning signs of stroke:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs (independently or together), call 911 immediately.

(Source: National Stroke Association)

MVHC is proud to be an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital. As an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital we have the capability to care for acute stroke, including administrations of intravenous thrombolytic therapy. Staff and resources are able to diagnose, treat and transfer most patients with stroke.

Other classifications of stroke designated hospitals are;

Primary Stroke Centers which provide acute care to most stroke patients. They are able to proved some acute therapies and admit patients to a stroke unit.  Primary Stroke Centers include Hennepin County Medical center and Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.

Hospitals that provide the highest level of stoke care are Comprehensive Stroke Centers. These hospitals have the expertise and resources to diagnose and treat patients who require intensive medical and surgical care, specialized tests or interventional therapies.  Abbott Northwestern, who MVHC collaborates with for Telestroke and Mayo Clinic Hospital-Rochester are two of the Comprehensive Stroke Centers.

(Source: Minnesota Department of Health)

For more information about Allina Health Telestroke, please visit http://www.allinahealth.org/Health-Conditions-and-Treatments/TeleHealth/Services/TeleStroke/.

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