Above: Emergency medicine physician Andy Lee, M.D., shows off a wireless, bedside “robot” used in NorthBay Healthcare to connect with stroke specialists at UC Davis Medical Center.
Although NorthBay Healthcare has been offering tele-stroke services at its hospitals since 2010, it entered into a new partnership with experts at UC Davis Medical Center earlier this year.
The service connects emergency departments at NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital with UC Davis Medical Center neurologists through wireless, bedside “robots.”
For patients, surviving and recovering from a stroke is contingent upon timely and appropriate care. Therefore, immediate access to an emergency neurologist is paramount.
At NorthBay, when a patient arrives at the emergency room and stroke is suspected, staff activates a stroke alert and are connected to UC Davis specialists. The connection is made for every stroke patient, even when NorthBay’s own neurologists are also on scene.
The program allows the specialists in Sacramento to “project” themselves into NorthBay via a wireless, mobile “remote presence” robot, which enables them to move, see, hear and talk to patients, and NorthBay doctors and staff, as if they were actually in the room. The devices include a computer screen on a rolling mobile stand. It allows NorthBay patients to get prompt care and an expert assessment of their condition without the delay of a helicopter ride to somewhere outside the county. “We are excited about our collaboration and partnership with UC Davis and look forward to continuing to improve our stroke alert process,” said Beth Gladney, N.P., NorthBay Healthcare’s Stroke Program manager.
With an average of 250 stroke patients each year coming to NorthBay, providing that quick access to expert care is vital, she said.
“It allows us to continue to provide quality stroke care 24/7 to our community,” she said.
NorthBay’s Chief Medical Officer Seth Kaufman, M.D., agreed. “We are excited about the collaboration and quality that comes with this program, which has already been helpful as we fine-tune our stroke care workflow,” he said.
There are two main causes of stroke: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), that doesn’t cause lasting symptoms.
“It’s important to get the diagnosis and treatment quickly. People who get medical attention early enough can receive medications and treatments to limit a stroke’s impact, or even save their life,” said Heather Theaux, NorthBay Healthcare’s director of Emergency Services/Trauma. “The advantage with telemedicine is that we can bring a specialist into the exam room at any time. We have immediate access to stroke specialists.”
It’s also important to understand the risk factors for stroke: being overweight, heavy or binge drinking, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease, among others.
Stroke Support is Here
NorthBay Healthcare has long been part of a support group program that connects stroke survivors and their caregivers with others experiencing the same thing.
NorthBay’s New Beginnings program meets once a month so stroke survivors, caregivers, family members and friends can come together to share their accomplishments and struggles.
The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m., providing the opportunity for members to get the support from people who understand what they’ve been through.
For more information, call Beth Gladney at (707) 646-4034, or email at egladney@Northbay.org.
Warning Signs of Stroke
One way to learn how to recognize symptoms and what to do if you think someone is having a stroke is the acronym B.E. F.A.S.T.:
Balance — Has the person experienced sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination?
Eyes — Do they have sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes?
Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb?
Speech Difficulty — Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand?
Time to call 9-1-1 — If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately.
When it comes to recognizing a stroke, it’s important to B.E. F.A.S.T.
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults. About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite those numbers, many people cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors.
It is important to recognize stroke symptoms and act quickly.
“The faster you get to a hospital and faster you give treatment, the more you improve outcomes after a stroke,’” explained Beth Gladney, N.P., NorthBay’s Stroke Program manager. “Time is brain and brain matters.”