Life-saving Telestroke care comes to Sheridan
In January 2019, Sheridan Memorial Hospital (SMH) began a TeleStroke Wyoming partnership with Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) in Casper. This partnership connects physicians in Sheridan with WMC neurologists to collaboratively devise the best treatment plans for stroke patients in real time.
Life-saving stroke care is measured in minutes. Time is brain, and the faster the blocked vessel is cleared, the better the chance for a patient’s survival and recovery. While studies show that treatment times decrease and treatment choices improve when a neurologist is involved early in the care of a stroke patient, few Wyoming hospitals have 24-hour neurology coverage.
“TeleStroke Wyoming allows our physicians to connect with WMC neurologists to actively participate in patient care and decision making as soon as the patient can get to the hospital,” said John Addlesperger, Chief Medical Officer for SMH. “This certainly increases our patient’s chances for a successful recovery.”
SMH is equipped with InTouch Health’s Vici robot. This technology is located in the SMH Emergency Department, but can easily be moved to another area of the hospital as needed. The Vici is a scalable, mobile cart system that can be rolled into any patient room. Through the high-definition cameras and display monitors, WMC neurologists can work with SMH physicians and directly with patients. They can zoom in or out or swing their view from side to side to ensure a complete field of vision. The system shares a patient’s history, vital signs and other data in real time in consultation with the on-site physician.
Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. One in every three strokes occur in people younger than 65. Advancements in stroke care over the last several years have vastly improved patient outcomes, but that treatment must be started quickly.
There are basically two ways to treat an ischemic stroke —the kind in which a clot blocks blood flow in arteries leading to or in the brain:
- IV administration of the clot-busting medication tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within the first 4 ½ hours after onset of symptoms.
- Mechanical thrombectomy, removing the clot from the brain with a specialized stent and image-guided technology, performed by an Interventional Radiology team. New guidelines have extended the time window for mechanical thrombectomy by up to 24 hours for some stroke patients, and TeleStroke will help facilitate the quick transfer of patients.
Nearly half of Wyoming citizens live an hour or more from the nearest hospital. Quick, accurate diagnosis is essential for such patients to ensure they are treated in time for the best possible outcome. Many years have gone into developing a statewide system of care for stroke patients. TeleStroke Wyoming is the next step in that process.
TeleStroke is the inaugural program of TeleMed Wyoming, WMC’s state-of-the-art telehealth system connecting Wyoming hospitals, physicians and patients with the widest network of medical specialties in the state, from the convenience of their local hospital.
When it comes to stroke, time is of the essence. If you or a loved one shows any of the signs of stroke, Act F.A.S.T. Call 911 immediately.
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Look to see if one side droops or the face is not symmetrical.
A – Arms: Have the person raise both arms in front of them at shoulder height. Watch to see if one arm drops lower than the other.
S – Speech: Ask the person a question or to repeat a phrase back to you. Listen for slurred or garbled speech or signs the person doesn’t understand what you have asked of them.
T – Time: If any of the three signs is present, time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive to the hospital yourself. Emergency medical responders will activate the stroke team on the way to the hospital, saving valuable minutes.