Allegheny Valley Hospital Establishes Stroke Telemedicine Program

Allegheny Valley Hospital (AVH) recently implemented a stroke telemedicine program at the hospital offering patients access to the highly-skilled stroke experts at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH).

A team of stroke-trained neurologists from AGH’s Comprehensive Stroke Center are now available around the clock at AVH for telemedicine consultations.  A secure video monitoring system provides a real-time connection between AVH’s Emergency Department staff and AGH’s neurologists and endovascular neurosurgeons.

Patients experiencing a stroke require rapid assessment by not only the emergency medicine physicians but also by neurologists.  Prompt treatment can save brain function and reduce stroke-related disability.  According to data collected by the American Heart Association, the best care is delivered when a stroke-trained neurologist is available at the patient’s bedside or via telemedicine.

“As the third leading cause of death in the United States, combined with the aging US population, stroke cases are likely to increase.  The primary advantage of telemedicine is placing expertise at the bedside and increasing patient access to the best care,” says Ashis H. Tayal, MD, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at AGH and the Telemedicine for Stroke program at AVH. “Our telemedicine capability reduces the need for patient transfer for evaluation, so stroke care can be delivered promptly after a thorough evaluation by two physicians.”

“The telemedicine for stroke program enhances the high level of care already provided in AVH’s Emergency Department,” said Jerry Taylor, MD, Director of Emergency Services at AVH. “When evaluating and treating stroke symptoms, time lost is brain tissue lost.”

According to Ned Laubacher, President and CEO at AVH, having this technology and access to the expertise available at AGH further expedites stroke intervention and care for patients in the community.  “AGH’s team of stroke-trained neurologists is working together with our emergency medicine team to best help patients in the valley.  This is a significant advancement in the level of care that we are now able to provide patients experiencing stroke symptoms.”

National research has shown that patients treated at Joint Commission-certified stroke centers receive the most sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic treatments more quickly and with better results than those treated elsewhere.

AGH, West Penn Allegheny’s flagship tertiary medical center, became certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission in 2006. AGH was awarded the Commission’s Gold Seal of ApprovalTM, bestowed to medical centers that are uniquely capable of providing the most advanced and effective treatment for patients who suffer from stroke. The program annually treats more than 900 stroke patients.

AVH’s first responders have been educated to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and to begin initial treatment in the field before the patient’s arrival in the emergency department.  Once at the hospital, AVH’s emergency physicians, nurses and technicians, utilize standards of care as outlined by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, to further evaluate the patient through examination and diagnostic testing.

AVH sees over 36,000 emergency patients a year in its newly expanded and renovated Emergency Department.  The addition of telemedicine at AVH further expands West Penn Allegheny Health System’s reach of its telemedicine program.

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