Five years ago the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center launched its Telestroke Network to help patients in rural communities receive timely state-of-the-art stroke therapies. Since then, the Network’s stroke neurologists have provided service to more than 1,000 patients.
One of the first of its kind in the state, the Telestroke Network partners with community hospitals to ensure that they have 24-hour access to Wake Forest Baptist stroke neurologists through telemedicine devices that have video teleconferencing and image-sharing capabilities.
“Wake Forest Baptist leads the state in the number of vascular neurology faculty who specialize in advanced stroke care,” said Bobbi Carbone, M.D., M.B.A., president and chief operating officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health. “This cutting-edge technology allows us to share our expertise, add to the capabilities of community hospitals across the state, and provide the best possible outcomes to patients in the best possible environment, either at the network hospital or, if necessary, by transfer to Wake Forest Baptist.”
Utilizing these specialized devices, Wake Forest Baptist stroke specialists can evaluate a patient at a member hospital and consult with emergency department doctors there in real time.
“Minutes can make all the difference in the outcome of an acute stroke patient,” said Charles Tegeler, M.D., professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist and medical director of the Telestroke Network. “This system saves precious time and helps to avoid delays in access to potentially life-saving treatment.”
So far, the network has helped treat more than 1,400 patients from Sparta to Morehead City. More than 60 percent of those cases required a remote-presence consultation with a Wake Forest Baptist neurologist via a telemedicine device while the rest could be handled by phone.
“The technology is amazing. From dozens of miles away, a stroke expert was able to recognize the signs and know what needed to be done,” said Nancy Lowman, a former patient at Catawba Valley Medical Center. “I was happy that I was able to stay at my home hospital because my family was able to visit me while I recuperated.”
Lexington Memorial Hospital, now Wake Forest Baptist Health – Lexington Medical Center, was the first hospital to join the network which now has 11 member hospitals. The other members are Alleghany Memorial Hospital in Sparta, Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir, Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, Granville Health System in Oxford (in partnership with WakeMed Health & Hospitals), Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville, Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center in Bermuda Run and Wilkes Regional Medical Center in North Wilkesboro.
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