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Virtual care to benefit district stroke patients

La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances recently hosted a “mock” consultation to highlight a new virtual program it is establishing that will help people who experience a stroke survive its debilitating effects.

Called “Telestroke,” it uses live, two-way television and digital image transfer to “connect” local stroke patients and their emergency physicians with remote neurologists located at a larger urban health care facility to obtain urgent diagnosis and management advice.

This emergency telemedicine application is supported by the Ontario Telemedicine Network.

“Telestroke” neurologists can recommend the administration of the clot-busting drug t-PA—a highly-effective stroke treatment that, if used within the first three-four hours of the onset of a hyper acute stroke due to a clot, may dramatically reduce its debilitating effects.

“This technology makes it possible for patients in the Rainy River District to have access to a neurologist that might be hundreds of miles away,” said Dr. John Nelson, director of Emergency Services at La Verendrye Hospital.

“Without this program, patients in underserved areas may not receive treatment that is effective,” he stressed.

Strokes affect 16,000 people a year in Ontario, at a cost to the economy of $1 billion in medical and other stroke-related cost.

Using “Telestroke” also allows for more effective use of scarce health human resources by providing support for physicians in smaller community like Fort Frances to assess and treat patients.

“We are very pleased to be providing this new service at La Verendrye Hospital,” said Wayne Woods, president and CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc.

“It allows us to serve our patients effectively and efficiently, close-to-home,” he noted.

The service will be up and running effective March 8 at noon.

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