WINSTON-SALEM – The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center expanded its Telestroke Network in January with the addition of Ashe Memorial Hospital. The partnership will help patients in and around Ashe County receive state-of-the-art stroke therapies.
Wake Forest Baptist’s Telestroke Network provides long-distance access to physicians who are nationally recognized for stroke care. Through the network, patients in rural areas have 24/7 access to Wake Forest Baptist stroke experts, as well as to the latest stroke therapies and interventions.
“It is extremely important to emphasize the need to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke early,” said Charles Tegeler, M.D., a Wake Forest Baptist neurologist, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center and president of the North Carolina Neurological Society. “Stroke is a medical emergency and the more folks understand that they need to call 911 and get to their local emergency department fast, the more we can help them.”
The Telestroke system employs a highly specialized telemedicine robot that allows a Wake Forest Baptist stroke expert to evaluate patients and consult with their local emergency room physicians via the Internet. Together they can determine if a patient is a candidate for tPA, an intravenous, clot-busting drug, or other lifesaving interventions.
“Ashe Memorial Hospital is excited to become a part of the Wake Forest Baptist Tele-Stroke Network,” said R.D. Williams, Ashe Memorial Hospital’s chief executive officer. “We strive to bring advanced technology and improved access to care to the residents of Ashe and surrounding counties. Ashe Memorial Hospital reviewed other potential Telestroke Networks in the state, but decided on the Wake Forest Baptist Telestroke Network because of their unique, local physician expertise and advanced technology.”
The Wake Forest Baptist stroke physician seated at a remote InTouch computer can simultaneously interact with the patient and view medical records and diagnostic images. They connect to an InTouch RP-7™ robot located at Ashe Memorial Hospital, which allows them to “move” freely around the exam room, interacting with patients, family members and hospital staff.
Different from other networks in the state, Wake Forest Baptist’s board-certified, fellowship-trained, vascular neurologists cover the Telestroke Network 24/7. Emergency department physicians need only to call the dedicated 1-800 number.
All Wake Forest Baptist Telestroke neurologists are either board certified in vascular neurology or fellowship trained in the care of stroke patients. Wake Forest Baptist was one of the first to set up this type of program in North Carolina for stroke patients. Wilkes Regional and Lexington Memorial hospitals are also part of the Telestroke Network.
Stroke strikes about 750,000 people each year in the United States, leaving thousands disabled, and is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the elderly. The five key warning signs of a stroke are: sudden weakness of the face or extremity; difficulty speaking; trouble seeing; dizziness or loss of balance; and severe headache without a known cause.
For more information about the Telestroke program, call (336) 716-3038 or visit www.wfubmc.edu.