GUTHRIE, Okla. – When you or a loved one is having a stroke, every minute counts.
Mercy Hospital Logan County now offers a new telestroke program where patients can receive specialized care without driving to Oklahoma City to see a specialist.
A stroke occurs when the flow of blood is cut off to the brain causing the brain tissue to die, which can result in permanent damage or death. Through telestroke, patients with stroke symptoms are seen immediately by a doctor in Mercy’s emergency room in Guthrie, and are connected to a neurologist in another facility through two-way, audio-visual technology. Patients are quickly provided a diagnosis and the lifesaving stroke medication, if needed.
Based on the severity of the case, a patient may then be transferred to Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department in Oklahoma City, where the hospital’s stroke team will care for the patient. Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City was the state’s first hospital to earn the Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association. The certification recognizes those hospitals with state-of-the-art infrastructure, staff and training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes.
“Two million brain cells die every minute when a patient is having a stroke,” said Dr. Robert Worden, director of the Emergency Department at Mercy Hospital Logan County. “Once you lose those brain cells, you can’t get them back, so it is important to get to the emergency room immediately to limit brain damage by receiving the treatment you need, when you need it.”
If the neurologist determines that the patient is having a stroke, the local emergency room provider can administer tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the clot-buster drug that is approved for the acute treatment of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. The drug is most effective when provided within three hours after symptoms begin.
Waiting too long to administer the medication could mean serious disability or death.
Stroke by the Numbers
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States and more than half of stroke patients will not be able to care for themselves after a stroke if they do not arrive to the emergency room quickly to receive treatment. The National Stroke Association estimates that about 795,000 strokes occur each year in the United States, which is about one stroke every 40 seconds.
Oklahoma has the fourth highest rate of stroke-related death in the country, accounting for almost 1,900 deaths in 2012 (the fifth leading cause of death in Oklahoma), according to the 2014 State of the State’s Health Report from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The same report shows that stroke-related deaths decreased by 52% from 2010 to 2012 in Logan County.
Worden hopes these numbers continue to decrease with the help of Mercy’s new telestroke program.
“Time is brain and this new technology helps us provide expert and specialized care as quickly as possible to this delicate patient population,” he said.
Dr. Richard V. Smith, medical director of Mercy’s NeuroScience Institute in Oklahoma City, said the addition of telestroke in Mercy’s rural facilities, like Mercy Hospital Logan County, is an innovative way Mercy is preventing disability and saving lives around the state.
Mercy Hospital Logan County is one of nine Mercy hospitals in Oklahoma that has adopted telestroke so far.
If you notice someone with the following symptoms, remember to think FASST and call 9-1-1.
Nine Ways to Prevent a Stroke
Obesity, smoking and overconsumption of alcohol can lead to a stroke. The National Stroke Association recommends the following nine ways to prevent a stroke:
Mercy is the fifth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, three rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.