Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Adds Hospital and North Carolina Stroke Association to Telestroke Network

December 9, 2009

The Comprehensive Stroke Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center added another hospital to its telestroke network to help patients in rural communities receive state-of-the-art stroke therapies. In addition, the North Carolina Stroke Association (NCSA) has also joined the Wake Forest Baptist Telestroke Network.

Wilkes Regional Medical Center joined the network as a partner hospital in late November. Wake Forest Baptist’s Telestroke Network provides access to physicians that are nationally recognized for stroke care. Through the network, patients in rural areas have 24/7 access to local stroke experts, as well as to the latest state-of-the-art stroke therapies and interventions. Wake Forest Baptist was the first to set up this type of program in North Carolina for stroke patients.

Wilkes Regional Medical Center is a 130-bed community hospital located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The medical center has been caring for Wilkes County residents for more than 80 years.

 “We are delighted that Wilkes Regional chose to join our telestroke network,” said Jonathan Bailey, Director of Neurosciences and Aging Services. “We look forward to working with the staff to provide the residents of Wilkes County the best in stroke care. We are also honored that the NCSA has chosen to accept our invitation to be a part of our stroke network. This partnership further exemplifies the unique quality of our telestroke network and the positive impact this will have on people in our local communities.”

The North Carolina Stroke Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke on the people of North Carolina.

“Our programs include a stroke risk identification tool, as well as a comprehensive post-discharge follow-up regimen,” said Beth Parks, Executive Director, North Carolina Stroke Association.  “Being asked to join a premier academic medical center,  like Wake Forest Baptist, in its efforts to reduce the impact of stroke is very much in line with our mission and was quite an honor.  We are excited about the potential this partnership will have on reducing the incidence of stroke and improving stroke patient outcomes in communities throughout the state.”

Emergency room physicians in partnership hospitals will have access to five stroke neurologists 24/7 via a highly specialized telemedicine robotic system.  This system allows a Wake Forest Baptist stroke expert to evaluate and consult on patients in their local hospitals. Wake Forest Baptist stroke neurologists have either completed fellowship training in the care of stroke patients or are board-certified in vascular neurology.

Through the power of the Internet, the Wake Forest Baptist stroke physician seated at an InTouch laptop can simultaneously interact with the patient, view medical records, and diagnostic images from home, office, or even their car.  They connect to an InTouch RP-7™ Robot located at the community hospital which allows them to move freely, interacting with patients, family members and hospital staff. Wake Forest Baptist stroke neurologists partner with emergency room physicians to determine if the patient is a candidate for tPA, an intraveneous, clot-busting drug or other life-saving interventions.   

“The Tele-stroke network is a real step forward in providing the latest in stroke care and expertise to patients throughout this region,” said Charles Tegeler, M.D., a Wake Forest Baptist neurologist, who serves as the director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center and president of the North Carolina Neurological Society. “Using a robotic system allows our stroke experts to virtually interact with a patient in a community hospital miles away as though the patient were right in front of us.” 

Stroke strikes about 750,000 people each year in the United States, leaving thousands disabled, and is the leading cause of serious long-term disability in the elderly.

“The more folks understand that having a stroke is a true medical emergency, and that they should call an ambulance after they recognize they are having a stroke, the more we can help them in their communities,” Tegeler said. 

For more information about the tele-stroke program, call 336-716-3038 or visit our website at www.wfubmc.edu. 

Media Relations

Main Number: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587

Karen Richardson: krchrdsn@wakehealth.edu, 336-716-4453