Time Matters Most

When Time Matters Most.

TeleHealth initiative allows for quicker stroke assessment.1187TelehealthStrokeCart

When it comes to stroke care, no one is more committed than Southeast Alabama Medical Center. SAMC is the first and only hospital in the area offering 24/7 neurosurgery coverage and now access to stroke specialists through the Alabama Partnership for TeleHealth.

This allows SAMC's Stroke Team to provide quicker diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients.

And it reinforces our dedication to excellence. We were the first hospital in the region to achieve the American Heart Association's 2012 GOLD PLUS Stroke Award.

"We are very excited to have this new technology," said Stephen Fernandez, MD, interventional radiologist with Radiology Associates of Dothan. "Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the nation and the number one cause of disability, so we are pleased to have these new developments in telemedicine to quickly evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in remote locations, who, without telemedicine, would not normally have timely access to this higher level of life-saving care."

The TeleHealth initiative saves valuable time for the patient. When first responders arrive on the scene, they will assess the patient and determine through a stroke protocol if the patients is potentially suffering a stroke. If the patient is a potential stroke victim, a call will be made to the Emergency Department at SAMC alerting them of the situation.

At that time, a Stroke Alert will be called internally and the CT Department and Laboratory Services will be placed on standby. A Critical Care Unit nurse and house supervisor will report to the Emergency Department and begin monitoring patient information as it comes in.

Once the patient arrives at SAMC, an Emergency Department physician will assess the condition of the patient and alert a neurologist. The physician can speak with the patient by video linkup in the Emergency Department.

This vital link is potentially life-saving by allowing for a quicker stroke diagnosis to determine if the clot-busting drug tPA should be administered for those who arrive within the time frame and who medically qualify for the drug.

SAMC's nationally ranked stroke team, consisting of a rehabilitative therapist, case manager, neurologist, neurosurgeon, radiologist, clinical specialist and other support personnel, work in concert for the best outcomes for all stroke patients.

The Philanthropic Women's Society of the SAMC Foundation donated more than $55,000 toward the TeleHealth technology, to purchase an Acute Stroke TeleHealth Cart.

"The Women's Society felt there was a need for this service in the small- to medium-sized hospitals in our service area," said Kristi Smith, chair of the Philanthropic Women's Society.

"They also recognized that providing two Telehealth carts could help save lives and prevent more serious damage to the brain. In our very first year, this group of 58 women who each contributed $1,000 pooled their philanthropic dollars and chose a project that will have a dramatic impact on healthcare in our community."

The region's most comprehensive Stroke Team includes the SAMC Emergency Department, Laboratory Services, CT, Pharmacy, Critical Care, Hospitalists and Nursing. We will also be working in concert with area EMS personnel and ambulance providers.