Henry Community Health Telestroke Collaboration With St. Vincent Health

A stroke, or brain attack, happens when blood flow to your brain is stopped. It is an emergency situation. Call 911 if you think you might be having a stroke or stroke symptoms.  The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to work well. If blood supply is stopped even for a short time, causing problems including paralysis, inability to talk and loss of memory. That’s why it is so important to quickly get emergency help.

Luckily patients who come to the Henry Community Health Emergency Room can receive quick diagnosis and treatment recommendations in coordination with a neurologist from St. Vincent Health. “Our telestroke collaboration with St. Vincent gives us that edge as they are designated as a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission,” explains Dr. Emily Luerssen,  Emergency  Department  Medical Director.

“Having a neurologist “on site” allows immediate consultation to the emergency physician so the decision about whether to give TPA to certain stroke patients can be made as quickly as possible, Dr. Luerssen continued.”

“The St. Vincent neurologist can read the patient’s CT scan (or other imaging tests) which can show bleeding in the brain or damage to brain cells and help find the location or type of stroke,” added Amanda Brookbank, RN, Emergency Department Director.

“Through the onsite “video monitor” the neurologist also can visibly see and talk with the patient and our Emergency Department provider. This allows our ED provider and the neurologist to discuss the patient’s condition to make the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan depending on the type of stroke diagnosed,” Brookbank continued.

What causes a stroke?

A stroke is caused when blood flow to your brain is stopped or disrupted. There are 2 kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It happens when a major blood vessel in the brain is blocked. It may be blocked by a blood clot or a buildup of fatty deposit and cholesterol called plaque. Once a diagnosis of an ischemic stroke has been made, HCH Emergency Department physicians can give the patient clot-busting medicines (thrombolytics or fibrinolytics)  to dissolve the blood clots that cause an ischemic stroke. Commonly known as TPA they can help reduce the damage to brain cells caused by the stroke. To be most effective, they must be given within 3 hours of a stroke occurring.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain bursts, spilling blood into nearby tissues. With a hemorrhagic stroke, pressure builds up in the nearby brain tissue. This causes even more damage and irritation. Usually patients with this condition are transferred to a facility that has a neurosurgeon.