Adding Telestroke/Acute Neurology Services

May 17, 2021

Community Hospital in McCook is expanding services, providing local, around-the-clock treatment for stroke patients through telemedicine. Telestroke/Acute Neurology services will be available for patients starting May 24 which coincides with Stroke Awareness Month.

These services are possible by using telemedicine specialists through a partnership with Teledigm Health/Bryan Telemedicine. Specialists are able to give immediate care, while the services keep patients close to home—with their primary care provider(s) in the community, and reduce additional expense.

“Stroke patients require fast critical treatment,” says Todd Hovey, RN, Community Hospital Stroke Coordinator. “Because timing is critical, when you are in a rural area, every second counts for treatment. There is a certain window of time in which we can activate treatments to improve blood flow to the brain. Plus, with telemedicine specialists at our side 24/7, we can rely on care that would be diminished if we had to transport to a larger area hospital,” explains Hovey.

According to the CDC, a stroke hits someone in the United States every 40 seconds, and early action is critical. Patients who receive appropriate care within three hours have a greater survival rate. They also suffer from less disability – such as loss of mobility – three months after the stroke than those who received delayed care.

“Our specialists are available right in the patient’s room when they’re most needed,” says Teledigm Health and Bryan Telemedicine President and CEO Brian J. Bossard, MD. “Patients in McCook can receive the same state-of-the-art care as someone in Lincoln or Omaha because they have immediate access to some of the top specialists in the area.”

Hovey reminds people that understanding the signs of stroke is the first step to getting the treatment they need. Remembering to act F.A.S.T. can help them reduce the effects of stroke to the brain.

“F.A.S.T. is Face. Arms. Speech. Time.,” says Hovey. “If you notice someone’s face droop on one side, one arm drifting downward, or slurred speech, that means it’s time to dial 911 and get to the emergency room right away. At Community Hospital we are now even more prepared to provide comprehensive care through our ER staff and telemedicine specialists.” Todd reminds people that stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, at any age.

To help treat people faster who may be undergoing a stroke, Community Hospital implemented a stroke alert in 2017, according to Hovey. When a patient arrives who may be having a stroke, a stroke alert is called. Staff from additional departments such as radiology, laboratory, and pharmacy will come to the ER to quickly assess and begin treatments in a coordinated manner using stroke treatment protocols. “We’ve seen improved times from arrival to definitive care since we have implemented the stroke alert protocol,” Hovey said. “Our improvement of times increases the chances of a better outcome for a patient if the stroke is caught early.”

StrokeAssociation.org is a great resource to learn more about stroke.