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California Hospitals Join Telestroke Program

June 23, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Two California medical centers have joined a telestroke program that uses robotic technology to connect patients experiencing stroke-like symptoms to an on-call stroke specialist.

Within the San Francisco-based Dignity Health system, St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta join Mercy Medical Center Redding’s Primary Stroke Center in offering immediate stroke care for thousands of residents in the north state region.

The telestroke equipment is wheeled into the treatment room where the stroke specialist at the Sacramento-based Dignity Health Neurological Institute zooms in on the patient through the camera, conducts an assessment and exam, and talks with the patient, ER physician, and family members. After reviewing the patient’s history and imaging studies, the stroke specialist recommends a treatment plan.

“Being able to rapidly assess stroke patients is critical, because ‘time is brain,’” Lisa Bennett, Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta emergency services director, said in a news release. “It’s amazing what telestroke means for both the patient and their family. It’s like the neurologist is right there in the room.”

In addition to the recent board certification of two neurocritical care intensivists at Mercy Redding’s Primary Stroke Center, emergency nurses at all three Dignity Health north state hospitals are now certified to administer tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the health system has announced. tPA is a powerful clot-dissolving drug that, when administered following a certain type of stroke, can counteract or significantly reduce the devastating effects. However, it’s important that people seek timely care following a stroke, because patients can only benefit from tPA during a small window of time.

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