SMITHVILLE – Saint Thomas Health this week announced the expansion of its Telestroke Network to three outlying hospitals in the Upper Cumberland: Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta and Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville.
This expansion brings neurology access to patients who may be experiencing a stroke – when minutes count – to 10 locations throughout Middle Tennessee. The full list of locations also includes Saint Thomas River Park in McMinnville, which implemented the technology last year.
“The Telestroke Network expands the gold standard in stroke care for patients, which means that every Saint Thomas Health patient now has access to the specialty care they need when time is of the essence,” said Amy Couvillion, RN, BSN, Saint Thomas Health System stroke/telemedicine director. “When a patient arrives at one of our emergency departments, and symptoms of a stroke are apparent, we now have all of the necessary resources in place to administer the highest level of care, including board-certified neurologists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via technology. We have developed a well-defined protocol comprised of best practices that is immediately enacted when a possible stroke patient arrives. We have covered more than 250 telestroke visits since we launched the network in April 2014.”
Couvillion says the staff and physicians at all four facilities attended on-site training in June; the telestroke service was available at all four hospitals as of June 30.
“I am pleased that the Saint Thomas Health Telestroke Network has expanded to four of our regional hospitals, which means that every Saint Thomas Health patient now has access to the specialty care they need when time is of the essence,” said Gordon Ferguson, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and President of Saint Thomas Regional Hospitals. “As we expand our footprint throughout the Upper Cumberland area, we are proud to offer the gold standard in stroke care for the communities we serve.”
The Saint Thomas Telestroke Network is a part of Ascension’s national virtual care initiative, which aims to ensure patients have access to compassionate, personalized care across its ministry markets.
“We have trained all personnel so that every single person on the stroke care team knows his or her job, and then, performs that job in a timed, appropriate sequence. This requires having a very specific plan of action in place,” said Dr. Frank Lafranchise, Saint Thomas Health System stroke/neurosciences medical director.
“With this approach, we have drastically shortened time-to-triage and time-to-treatment for our stroke patients,” he added. “In an acute stroke, time is the critical element in preventing or reducing damage to the patient’s brain. With a board-certified neurologist at the bedside, the patient is more likely to receive intravenous tPA, the drug that is the game-changer for stroke if received within three hours, in a timely fashion. The neurologist then works with the neurosurgery team to evaluate the patient for endovascular rescue, the latest effective treatment option for stroke patients. The sooner these treatments are started, the better for the patient.”