Clarion Hospital Collaborates With Allegheny Health Network to Bring Advanced Telestroke Services To Clarion

Clarion Hospital is pleased to announce that as of Wednesday, July 10th, Telestroke Services went live and are now available to patients at Clarion Hospital.  Utilizing the latest telemedicine technology, Clarion Hospital can now offer the services of real time, audiovisual consultation with a stroke neurologist from the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute in treating patients with stroke symptoms.

Through a USDA federally funded matching grant, Clarion Hospital was able to acquire the telemedicine video conferencing carts at the hospital.  This equipment allows for the Clarion Hospital Physicians to connect directly with AHN neurologists to assist in evaluating the patient right here in our hospital and together determine the best course of treatment.

When a patient presents to our Emergency Department with stroke symptoms, time is of the essence. “Our staff has been collaborating with Allegheny Health Network to put protocols in place to insure rapid evaluation, intervention, and quality stroke care for patients in our community,” said Leslie Walters, Chief Nursing Officer.  “This intervention may now include a video conference with a consulting neurologist from Allegheny Health Network, a service available 24/7.”

The telemedicine equipment is moved to the foot of the patient bed.  Once it is established that a video consultation is in order, the neurologist logs into the telestroke system and can interact with the patient, their family and the Clarion Hospital Physician.  The neurologist discusses the assessment findings and the treatment options with the family during the video consultation.  Once options are discussed the plan of treatment is put into place, which may include Alteplase, a clot busting drug that can be administered right here at Clarion Hospital.   There are two Telemedicine Carts available to our physicians to use, one is located in our Emergency Department and the second is located in our ICU to provide Telestroke Services to patients that are already hospitalized.

“This is another way we are utilizing technology to enhance access to critical health care services close to home in Clarion and the surrounding communities. This is also a key step toward our pursuit of becoming a certified, Primary Stroke Center,” said Steven Davis, CEO Clarion Hospital.  “There are over 200 strokes per year in our service area,” said Davis “and we see our role as educating the public to recognize early signs and symptoms and to know they can receive timely, definitive and life/brain saving care close to home.”

AHN was recently recognized for its leading stroke care by the American Stroke Association and it’s Get with the Guidelines-Stroke initiative. The achievement awards were given to multiple AHN hospitals demonstrating the exceptional expertise and capabilities of the network’s multi-disciplinary stroke program.

“Clarion Hospital and Allegheny Health Network have a shared mission of providing patients with high quality health care services in the communities where they live and we are excited to help advance the hospital’s ability to care for stroke patients through the innovation of telemedicine,” said Dr. Ashis Tayal, MD, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at AGH and Co-Director of the AHN Cerebrovascular Center. “We look forward to the positive impact our collaboration will have on the people of Clarion County.”

So what exactly is a stroke?  A stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain.  A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that caries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.  When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and brain cells die.

Strokes can be ischemic (a blockage of the artery) or hemorrhagic (when the artery bursts or a bleed).  Sometimes a TIA (transient ischemic attack) occurs, this is also known as a mini-stroke that produces stroke-like symptoms.  If you are having any symptoms of a stroke call 9-1-1 immediately, the sooner a stroke victim gets to the hospital, the sooner they will get the lifesaving treatment that they need.  Stroke survivors have the best outcomes when they receive treatment in 4.5 hours or less.

How To Spot A Stroke:

The acronym FAST is used in spotting stroke symptoms.

F – Face Drooping

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

A – Arm Weakness

Is one arm weak or numb?   Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech Difficulty

Is Speech slurred, are they unable to speak or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.”  Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T- Time To Call 911

If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately. Be sure to mark the time of the call so you will know when the first symptoms appeared.  This is important information you will need to know when you get to the hospital.