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Sequim Gazette staff
Clallam County residents facing a potential or actual ischemic stroke now will benefit from a recently formed partnership between the Swedish Neuroscience Institute TeleStroke Program and Olympic Medical Center.
The TeleStroke Program links Olympic Medical's emergency medicine physicians to Swedish's stroke team experts 24 hours a day, seven days a week through real-time, secure videoconferencing technology.
"The TeleStroke program adds another level of opportunity for our stroke patients by giving access to neurology specialists, while eliminating or minimizing the need to travel to Seattle or Tacoma," says Lorraine Wall, chief nursing officer at Olympic Medical Center.
Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend also has an agreement with Swedish for the state-of-the-art TeleStroke service.
An ischemic stroke involves blockage of a blood vessel that feeds an area of the brain, most often caused by a blood clot in an artery. When the flow is compromised, the affected area starts to die. "The TeleStroke program helps us target this kind of stroke quickly and efficiently, providing improved opportunity for recovery for our patients," Wall said.
How TeleStroke works
The Swedish Stroke Program hub is located on the Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. When a patient arrives in the emergency department at Olympic Medical Center with stroke symptoms, day or night, the Swedish stroke team is paged. Members of the team can log in on their home or office computers to complete a TeleStroke examination and determine if a patient might qualify for available rescue therapies in an attempt to "stop" the stroke.
The most common rescue therapy the stroke team would use is an FDA-approved medicine called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. The medicine can reverse the devastating effects of stroke for some patients if it is administered within four and a half hours of the onset of a stroke. But the key to the successful use of tPA - or other clot-busting thrombolytic drugs - lies in rapid and correct diagnosis. As every minute passes, more brain cells die if the blood clot causing the stroke is not destroyed.
TeleStroke consultation also ensures that high quality, in-hospital and post-acute interventions are in place to prevent recurrent strokes and future disability.
Established in 1910, Swedish has grown over the past 100 years to become the largest, most comprehensive nonprofit health provider in the greater Seattle area with 8,500 employees, 3,000 physicians and 1,200 volunteers.
In 2004, Swedish expanded its neuroscience services by establishing the Swedish Neuroscience Institute.
The team of neurosurgeons and other specialists built a world-class institution dedicated solely to the treatment and advancement of understanding of neurological disorders for patients in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.