Clallam County residents facing a potential or actual ischemic stroke now benefit from a partnership between the Swedish Neuroscience Institute TeleStroke Program and Olympic Medical Center.
The TeleStroke program links Olympic Medical’s emergency medicine physicians to Swedish’s nationally recognized stroke team experts 24 hours a day, seven days a week through real-time, secure videoconferencing technology.
“We have excellent emergency medicine physicians who do a very good job of diagnosing stroke and initiating treatment. The TeleStroke program adds another level of opportunity for our stroke patients by giving access to neurology specialists, while eliminating or minimizing the need to travel to Seattle or Tacoma,” says Lorraine Wall, chief nursing officer, Olympic Medical Center.
How the TeleStroke Program Works
The Swedish Stroke Program hub is located on the Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. When a patient arrives in the emergency department at Olympic Medical Center with stroke symptoms, day or night, the Swedish stroke team is paged. Members of the team – which include a stroke team physician in coordination with a specially trained stroke nurse practitioner, physician assistant or registered nurse – can log in on their home or office computers to complete a TeleStroke examination and determine if a patient might qualify for available rescue therapies in an attempt to ‘stop’ the stroke. The most common rescue therapy that the stroke team would use is an FDA-approved medicine called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. This medicine can reverse the devastating effects of stroke for some patients if it is administered within four and a half hours of the onset of a stroke. But the key to the successful use of tPA – or other clot-busting thrombolytic drugs – lies in the rapid and correct diagnosis because as every minute passes, more brain cells die if the blood clot causing the stroke is not destroyed (“Time is Brain”).
“Four Swedish campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard and Issaquah – are certified as Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission,” said Tammy Cress, RN, Swedish’s Director of Telehealth. “TeleStroke is another important tool in our arsenal against the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the number-one cause of adult disability.”
TeleStroke consultation also ensures that high quality, in-hospital and post-acute interventions are in place to prevent recurrent stroke and future disability.
About Ischemic Stroke
An ischemic stroke is a stroke associated with the blockage of a blood vessel that feeds areas of the brain. This type of stroke is normally due to a blood clot in an artery that feeds an area of brain with oxygen. When that is compromised, the affected area of brain starts to die. “The TeleStroke program helps us target this kind of stroke quickly and efficiently, providing improved opportunity for recovery for our patients,” says Wall.
About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year. That's about 1 of every 18 deaths. It's the No. 4 cause of death behind diseases of the heart and cancer.
Watch for signs of stroke:
· WALK: Is the person’s balance off?
· TALK: Is the person’s speech slurred or face droopy?
· REACH: Is ONE side of the person’s face weak or numb?
· SEE: Is the person’s vision all or partly lost?
· FEEL: Is the person’s headache severe?
If you think you may be having a stroke, call 9-1-1 and seek immediate medical attention.