When it comes to stroke, time is brain; making speed a critical component of treatment. As part of a new telemedicine program implemented in all four Lee Memorial Health System acute care hospitals, stroke care has been expedited, decreasing door to needle times – the interval between patients’ arrival to the hospital and the start of treatment.
Cape Coral Hospital’s Emergency Department team and neurologist Bill Carracino, M.D., were the first in Lee County to use telemedicine to treat a stroke patient.
“There are obvious benefits to our community in the level and speed of care we’re able to provide. It cuts down on time spent in the car getting to the hospital, considering I was at home and got the call about 8:30 at night and Cape Coral Hospital is a good 25 minutes from me,” Dr. Carracino says. “Rather than driving to the hospital under stress, I was able to make my assessment within about 10 minutes of the patient presenting to the ED, and from the comfort of my home.”
As designated Primary Stroke Centers (Cape Coral Hospital and Lee Memorial Hospital) and a Comprehensive Stroke Center (Gulf Coast Medical Center), Lee Memorial Health System’s hospitals deliver swift, leading-edge and effective treatment.
As stroke patients arrive to the ED and undergo a CT scan, the emergency room physician alerts the neurologist on call and gives a brief overview of the patient’s condition. In the meantime, a tech sets up the tele-health cart in the patient’s room. CT scan results are available quickly allowing the neurologist to review them as the patient returns from the scan. After assessing the available information, the neurologist is virtually present via the tele-health cart and leads the care team through evidence-based protocols to provide an optimal outcome given the patient’s unique circumstances.
“When I got the call from Cape Coral Hospital, I was able to get to work right away assessing the information I received. I was able to pull up Synapes—our image storage system—and look at the CT scan as soon as it was available,” Dr. Carracino explains. “The team worked so well together with this new workflow—like a well-oiled machine—which was great for my first real-life remote experience.”
Stroke is a leading cause of long term disability and death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year—that’s one of every 19 deaths.