Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide, right behind heart disease. Immediate medical attention can mean the difference between life and death, something that can be difficult in smaller cities. Dr. John Seymour, Medical Director for the Hancock County Emergency Department, says, "Most rural emergency departments, such as Hancock, don’t have a neurologist, much less a stroke neurologist here at the hospital, maybe not even close to the hospital, possibly not even on call."
With Hancock Medical’s new telestroke system, once a patient has been admitted and is showing symptoms of a stroke, such as face drooping, arm weakness, or speech difficulty, one of the top stroke experts in the country is just a call away. Liz Cothren, Assistant Vice President of Telemedicine for Ochsner Health System, says, "What we want is that they have the proper diagnosis made very quickly without leaving their community unless it’s absolutely necessary."
Strokes are treated with blood thinners to remove any blockage and restore blood flow, but time is of the essence. Dr. Seymour also says, "From the time that you or your family member are experiencing symptoms, you have three hours to start the medication. If you can imagine what happens in that three hour time period, things have to move quickly."
Using the telestroke technology, doctors at Hancock Medical Center can communicate with stroke specialists at Ochsner in New Orleans, saving valuable time when every second counts. Cothren also says, "If you bypass a hospital to drive to another facility, you lose 2 million brain cells every minute, so the idea is to provide the care that you need closer to home." Medical professionals say that with strokes, time is brain, and in this case, life.
Dr. Seymour closes, "With the technology that we have here at Hancock, we can connect patients. We’ll be able to connect patients to a neurologist within minutes of their arrival to the emergency room."