Mountain West Medical Center is the fastest among 28 rural hospitals in the Intermountain West in treating stroke patients using a University of Utah Hospital TeleStroke Program, a health official says.
“They (MWMC) have the fastest door-in, door-out time,” said Jaleen Smith, coordinator of the program. “They are super fast, super bright and wonderful to work with.”
The telestroke program helps at hospitals where there is limited access to professionals who can diagnosis and treat stroke patients when time is a challenge.
According to recent statistics over a three-month period, emergency crews at MWMC averaged 86 minutes from the time a stroke patient arrived via ambulance at the Tooele hospital to the time they left to be admitted at the University of Utah Hospital.
During that time, patients undergo a CT scan and are examined by a neurologist at the U of U Hospital with the help of a telestroke camera. Neurologists diagnose the patient’s condition and provide information on how the patient should be treated.
“Eight neurologists provide 24-hour, on-call service via telestroke cameras to 28 rural hospitals in six states,” Smith said.
“Speed is the key in treating stroke victims,” said Pamela Giles, MWMC’s stroke receiving accreditation specialist.
“If someone comes in with stroke symptoms, we call it a Code Purple,” she said. Giles said all the essential medical specialists in the hospital are notified.
“We keep track of every little thing we do to improve on our time. The original goal for door-in to door-out was under 90 minutes, but our goal is to get that down to under 75 minutes,” Giles said.
She said teamwork is a major key in the success of the hospital’s telestroke program.
When a patient arrives, vital signs are obtained and lab work completed. The course of treatment is dependent on multiple variables. A doctor on site obtains the patient’s history from those who are present and other initial tests are completed.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, according to stroke.org. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain — such as memory and muscle control — are lost.
If patients are quickly treated with a drug called TPA (tissue plaminogen activator), the effects of the stroke can be minimized, according to Scott Rounds, MWMC director of emergency services.
“Patients who have strokes have neurological deficits for the rest of their lives because a part of their brain has gone without oxygenated blood,” Rounds said. “The medication can dissolve the clot so blood flow can continue to get back to the area of the brain so it can heal.”
Hospital officials say people should remember the acronym FAST to quickly spot when a stroke is occurring: F is for facial drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty, and T for time to call 911.
“If someone feels they are having a stroke, they should call 911 and they should not drive to the hospital because they could be neurologically impaired,” Rounds said.
Additional information about strokes can be found from the National Stroke Association, www.stroke.org.