TUNKHANNOCK — When it comes to stroke care, time is critical.
And so is having a neurologist on hand to evaluate a patient, make a diagnosis and begin proper treatment.
Before September, patients admitted to the emergency room at Commonwealth Health Tyler Memorial Hospital showing symptoms of a possible stroke would likely be immediately transferred to another facility. But, because of the latest in technology and an innovative program provided by the Penn State Health Neuroscience Institute, the Wyoming County hospital now provides around-the-clock coverage by board-certified neurologists and neurosurgeons.
The new program, LionNet TeleStroke, is a partnership between community hospitals and Penn State Health to improve patient care via telemedicine. When a patient experiencing stroke arrives in the emergency room at Tyler, neurologists on staff at Penn State’s Hershey location are immediately connected to the attending physicians through a secure website via a specialized monitor at Tyler. The Penn State physicians provide consultation, examine the patients, review CT scans and speak to the patient and family. A treatment is recommended and the Tyler physician determines the best course of action.
TeleStroke keeps patients in their community and allows the family the comfort of having their loved one hospitalized close to home.
Penn State developed the program to combat the shortage of neurologists in Pennsylvania, especially in rural areas like Wyoming County.
The Tyler medical staff is trained to use the system and all nurses are trained to use the carts – portable units that hold the two-way monitor that allows the exchange between specialists in Hershey and the doctors, patients and family members at Tyler.
Advantages of the TeleStroke program include reduction in treatment time, elimination of unnecessary travel and transfer of patients and their families, real-time access to specialty care not available in a community and an increased chance of significant improvement in patient outcome.