In July, CAMC hosted medical staff from several rural West Virginia hospitals to participate in a real-life demonstration of new telemedicine technology that can be used to treat stroke patients.
CAMC is the only designated primary stroke center in the region.
"That means that we are one of the centers in the state that are designated for stroke care," said stroke program manager, Kelly Cottrell, RN, BSN, NE-BC.
"Stroke care is very time sensitive, so you have to be efficient and prompt. We do our best to evaluate patients in a very timely manner. A lot of patients are evaluated for tPA. That's the clot-busting or clot-dissolving medication that is given in acute ischemic stroke," Cottrell said.
Ischemic stroke: Caused by a blood clot that blocks or narrows blood vessels to the brain
Hemorrhagic stroke: Caused by a blood vessel breaking and bleeding into the brain
In both scenarios, oxygen cannot travel to the brain and causes brain cells to die
The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke, tPA must be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms to be effective. Before tPA can be administered, patients must meet certain criteria. At a primary stroke center like CAMC, a neurologist and trained stroke team determine eligibility for tPA, but rural hospital facilities may not have access to stroke specialists, which can delay care.
But that's about to change.
Thanks to technological advances, telemedicine has become a valuable tool in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients in rural hospitals.
"Telestroke technology is going to be very beneficial to the small rural facilities that I come from because we do not have specialty care at our facilities such as a neurologist to consult for a stroke victim or patient," said Barbara LaGue, RN, emergency room (ER) manager at Jackson General Hospital.
"It is very nice for our ER physicians to consult with a neurologist, and telemedicine can actually pull them into the patient's bedside with a video camera and let them see what the ER physician is seeing to consult about the patient's care," LaGue said.
As telemedicine technology is deployed in hospitals throughout the state, health care professionals can come to CAMC for hands-on demonstrations and participate in real-time scenarios with actor patients.
"I think [these simulations] are very helpful," LaGue said. "We don't have anything like this at the facility where I come from. It's more realistic, and it lets you prepare for when that real patient walks in."
Learn more about CAMC's Stroke Center at camc.org/Stroke.