Mercy Hospital Fort Scott has a new set of eyes in the emergency room. And with the help of the ER staff, a new form of life-saving stroke care is here.
It’s called Telestroke. You won’t find its definition in the dictionary, but in the last year alone, it’s been a vital piece of 1,300 emergency neurological consultations across Mercy’s four-state service area.
It’s difficult to wrap your mind around a how highly-specialized computer and super zoom camera on wheels can perform miracles, but telestroke’s success in other Mercy communities has families applauding the results.
Telestroke works like this. When a patient presents to Mercy’s emergency room with stroke or other neurological symptoms, the staff immediately informs a Mercy Safewatch nurse stationed at the electronic ICU of the scenario. The nurse registers the patient and accesses the patient’s records.. While the patient is receiving necessary tests, the Safewatch nurse connects with a specialist in neurology and insures they have all the information they need to assess the patient. With all the medical information at the neurologist fingertips, it’s time for the doctor to make the assessment and diagnosis. With careful and thorough inspection, the doctor can advise the ER care team how to respond to and care for the patient’s emergency.
And it all happens through a highly sophisticated camera, a nurse in St Louis and a neurologist located perhaps thousands of miles away.
“The beauty of telestroke is that we are now able to deliver life-saving care when seconds matter most in communities where a specialist, like a neurologist, isn’t always available,” explains Dr. Chris Veremakis, Medical Director for Mercy’s Center for Innovative Care. “Through the use of technology, we can connect patients and highly-skilled providers in the same room to create excellent outcomes.”
The telestroke equipment was unveiled on Tuesday, before a group of Mercy Health Foundation Board members and donors with Veremakis leading a demonstration.
“It’s great to have this form of medical care available to patients of this area,” says Joan Ermel, Mercy Health Foundation Board Secretary from Bronson, Kan. “I’ve been intrigued with the concept of telestroke since I first heard the term about a year ago,” “Both my parents, my brother and sister have suffered a stroke. To see first-hand how this exciting new form of medical care can be used in case of neurological emergencies is wonderful.”
“Telestroke is recommended by the American Hospital Association as the only alternative to having a specialist at the bed side,” Veremakis says.
“This is just one more piece of hi-tech medicine that places Mercy patients at an advantage when receiving health care from us,” explains Reta Baker, Mercy Hospital President. “We are in a select handful of hospitals across the country to offer this type of emergency care.”
“Telestroke is just the tip of the iceberg for telemedicine,” Baker adds. “Now that the equipment is in place, other services may be added as need is demonstrated and providers can be matched to provide the service.”