MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Stroke patients at Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins are able to receive advanced emergency care from a WVU neurologist through a Tele-stroke partnership with WVU Healthcare. Video conferencing devices allow WVU Stroke Center neurologists and Davis Memorial Hospital staff to develop a care plan for the stroke patient, share tests like computed tomography (CT) scans and intravenously administer a clot-busting drug called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator.

“A lot of West Virginia residents live in areas that are not covered by a neurologist, and Tele-stroke is increasing WVU’s reach to rural areas. Three recent patients may not have gotten the tPA drug without Tele-stroke, and it would have been too late to treat the stroke,” WVU Healthcare neurologist Claudette Brooks, M.D., said.

Stroke patients who do not receive treatment within three hours of the first sign of symptoms are at a greater risk for disability and mortality. Most hospitals are able to give tPA to a stroke patient in the emergency room, but they may have hesitancy because they don’t have neurology back up, Dr. Brooks said.

Brooks, Christopher Cummings, M.D., and Laurie Gutmann, M.D., respond 24 hours a day to any emergency calls to the WVU Stroke Center from Davis Memorial Hospital. A WVU neurologist performs an exam of the patient via video-conferencing equipment and physicians at both institutions collaborate on the patient’s care. The patient may remain at Davis Memorial Hospital for further care. If the WVU neurologist and emergency room staff determine that the clot-busting drug tPA is needed, the patient is transported to WVU Healthcare for observation after the treatment is given.

“Tele-stroke is a young program, but it is an excellent healthcare service for the people of West Virginia. We hope that this is the beginning of more Tele-stroke partnerships with other rural hospitals in the future,” Brooks said.

The WVU Stroke Center has an emergency response team available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to evaluate and treat a stroke in time to minimize damage. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. Symptoms of stroke are slurred speech, difficulty walking, arm/leg weakness or numbness and facial drooping. When a stroke occurs or is suspected, call 911.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
dc: 07-20-12