EDMONDS, WA, May 21, 2010 – South Snohomish County area residents facing a potential or actual acute stroke will now benefit from a recently formed partnership between the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) Acute TeleStroke Program and Stevens that will bolster Stevens’ stroke support services through 24/7, around-the-clock access to SNI’s nationally recognized stroke team experts via real-time, telemedicine-based technology.
This TeleStroke partnership provides an as-needed link between the emergency-room (ER) team at Stevens and the comprehensive team of stroke specialists based at the Swedish/Cherry Hill Campus in Seattle. With the help of a secure, video-conferencing network, members of SNI’s Stroke Program are able to quickly perform ‘virtual’ bedside neurological evaluations that allow them to examine patients, review brain images and quickly select the best acute stroke treatments in collaboration with Stevens ER physicians.
Although this partnership between Stevens and SNI’s TeleStroke Program is a recent development, the concept of a certified and comprehensive stroke center providing extra support to partner ERs is not new.
“We are really excited about the opportunity to begin helping the ER team at Stevens Hospital provide an enhanced level of stroke care services to people who live and work in this region,” said SNI Stroke Program Medical Director William Likosky, M.D. “The innovative component of this program is to bring experienced vascular consultants to the patient’s bedside in the ER. The consulting physician will then be able to examine the patient and discuss with the patient, family and ER doctor emergent treatments, which may break down blood clots and reverse stroke symptoms.”
The Swedish Acute TeleStroke Program, which started in 2007, is part of an integrated effort to improve stroke diagnosis and treatment throughout Washington state. It currently provides these services to seven hospitals throughout the region, and two more will soon launch this program in collaboration with Swedish.
“The TeleStroke Program is one of several changes we’ve recently made at the Stevens ER to enhance the level of emergency medical services we provide to the communities we serve, said Nancy Wood, R.N., vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Stevens.
Stroke is the third largest cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. According to the American Stroke Association, about 800,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and about every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.
Closer to home, Washington state has one of the higher rates of stroke death in the country. Fortunately, over the past decade stroke care has improved in various ways. Examples include newer diagnostic tests that are available to help pinpoint the location of a clot, and newer therapeutic treatments that may help reverse or minimize the impact of a stroke.
However, these treatments are time-dependent and, as a result, most effective when they can be provided in the nearest emergency room. Unfortunately, many ERs do not have the volume or support to provide American Heart Association-recommended stroke evaluations and treatments. Telemedicine provides an effective way of bringing to the patient’s community ER the same level of expert care available at a major medical center with an experienced stroke program.
How the Swedish TeleStroke Program Works
The Swedish Stroke Program hub is located on the Cherry Hill Campus in Seattle. When a rescue candidate stroke patient arrives in the ER at Stevens at any time of the day or night, the Swedish stroke team is paged. As indicated, members of the team – which include a stroke team physician in coordination with a specially trained stroke nurse practitioner/physician assistant– 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 that the stroke team would use is an FDA-approved medicine called tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. This medicine can reverse the devastating effects of stroke for some patients if it is administered within the acute treatment window. But the key to the successful use of TPA – or other clot-busting thrombolytic drugs – lies in rapid and correct diagnosis because as every minute passes, more brain cells die if the blood clot causing the stroke is not destroyed (‘Time is Brain’).
“All four of Swedish’s campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard and Issaquah – are certified as Primary Stroke Centers by the Joint Commission,” said Tammy Cress, R.N., director of TeleMedicine Program services for Swedish. “TeleStroke is another important tool in our arsenal against the third leading cause of death in the United States and the number-one cause of adult disability.”
TeleStroke consultation also ensures that high quality, in-hospital and post-acute interventions are in place to prevent recurrent stroke and future disability.
For more information on how to become a partner of the Swedish Acute TeleStroke Program or to receive information about other Swedish TeleMedicine Program opportunities, contact Tammy Cress at 206-320-3112 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Stevens Hospital
Since 1964, Stevens Hospital has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the community through local, high-quality and compassionate health-care services. Stevens Hospital offers a range of hospital services including cardiac and cancer care, obstetrics, mental health services, emergency services and state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging. In 2010, the community hospital received a five-star rating for the treatment of stroke (two years in a row), pneumonia (two years in a row) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from HealthGrades, an independent health-care ratings company. Stevens Hospital, licensed for 217 beds with a professional staff of 1,200-plus, serves patients from South Snohomish and North King Counties. More than 400 physicians have privileges. The Board of Commissioners for Public Hospital District #2 of Snohomish County, Washington, is responsible for oversight of the hospital and its facilities. For more information, visit www.stevenshospital.org.
Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of three hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill and Ballard – a freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center in Issaquah, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services, and the Swedish Physician Division – a network of more than 40 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Puget Sound area. In fall 2009, Swedish broke ground on a new medical office building and hospital in the Issaquah Highlands, as well as a medical office building and ambulatory center in Ballard. More recently, Swedish announced plans to open freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center facilities in Mill Creek and Redmond. In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org.
About the Swedish Neuroscience Institute
In 2004, Swedish expanded its neuroscience services by establishing the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. The team of leading neurosurgeons and other specialists are building a world-class institute dedicated solely to the treatment and advancement of neurological disorders for patients in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Swedish/Cherry Hill has been designated as the hub for the Institute and has been upgraded with four state-of-the-art operating rooms featuring intra-operative MRI, CT scanning and neuro-interventional radiology capabilities; a renovated neuro intensive-care unit; and a CyberKnife® facility for radiosurgical treatment of tumors throughout the body. SNI specializes in the research for and treatment of stroke; cerebral aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations; movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and tremors; brain tumors (including both malignant tumors and benign tumors such as meningiomas); neuro-endocrine disorders including pituitary tumors; epilepsy; child neurological disorders; neuro-ophthalmology; headaches; multiple sclerosis and many other neurological conditions and diseases. In each category, physicians from different specialties are brought together to provide a multi-disciplinary approach centered on providing top-notch patient care. For more information, visit www.swedish.org.