When a medical emergency happens, time is of the essence. When there’s a possibility of a stroke, the time spent doing tests to diagnose a stroke is essential. The goal is to diagnose a stroke as quickly as possible in order for the recovery to happen quickly with little to no side effects.

“Time is absolutely crucial when we’re dealing with the possibility of a stroke,” Director of Emergency Services at Memorial Hospital of Converse County Robynn Scheehle said.

Last November the hospital in Douglas teamed up with the Emergency Room and Neurology Department at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper and implemented the tele-stroke machine and procedure, with hopes of a speedy diagnosis, or to rule out the possibility of a stroke.

“The emergency room and EMS put a program into place that if an ambulance is dispatched to someone’s home with stroke-like symptoms then they can call in and activate our tele-stroke protocol,” Scheehly said.

The emergency department has a machine that gets activated and taken into a patient’s room, a name and date of birth are entered and an immediate connection to Wyoming Medical Center is made.

The apparatus is a simple one. It’s over five feet tall with a fairly large camera at the top. Look below and you’ll see a tablet that connects to WMC like a video or Facetime call on your iPhone. The machine is linked with all departments of the hospital which allows the team at WMC to access any tests or scans of the patient in real time.

“We connect to WMC and a neurologist is able to get on immediately and is able to do his assessment,” Scheehly said.

Even if the neurologist is away from WMC, they will still be able to assess the patient as long as they have a tablet that connects to the tele-stroke program.

The tele-stroke machine sits at the end or near the patient’s bed, focuses on the patient and the physician so there is a physician-to-physician consult immediately.

With this technology any scan or test that the Douglas hospital performs is seen by the team at WMC immediately.

“The team at WMC can see the patient and our physician doing his assessment,” Scheehly said. “It’s all rapid, it’s really fast. If we send the patient to do a CT scan the neurologist and our physician can read the scan to determine if we need to administer TPA, a clot buster. The TPA can be administered here and the patient is immediately loaded on the ambulance and transported to WMC.”

Being able to diagnose a stroke and start treatment will reduce the recovery time for the patient and the after effects of the stroke.

“When a patient is having a stroke, it’s all about time,” Scheehly said. “The longer they go with stroke symptoms then you’re messing with brain tissue. The faster we can utilize the tele-stroke machine, administer TPA and get the blood flow back, the less tissue damage we have.”

The tele-stroke program has been used three times already at MHCC with no strokes being diagnosed according to Scheehly.

Tele-stroke is gaining traction all across the nation with more and more hospitals getting on board. MHCC is proud to say that they are the first hospital in Wyoming to implement the program.

When it comes to diagnosing strokes, Scheehly has a message.

“Time is brain matter.”

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