Recently, Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center was certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. This “gold standard” designation in stroke treatment now ensures that EOMC is able to further improve and provide the same standard of care relating to stroke risks, prevention, and treatment as any other tertiary hospitals. “A tremendous amount of commitment, training, and ground work has been exhibited in preparing for this vast accomplishment, said Terry Buckner, CEO, Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center.
This certification is made possible through the use of telemedicine technology. Telemedicine is one of the fastest-growing technologies of the new millennium. EOMC is proud to provide Telestroke services, changing patients’ lives for the better. We are excited to continue to improve efficiency, optimize quality and safety, and improve patient care. This new service is in line with our mission of providing quality care through commitment and compassion.
A unique partnership between Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center, Sparks Health System, and Diagnostics Imaging Associates is resulting in life-saving treatment options for patients. The Regional TeleStroke Program has been established to act quickly to diagnose and stabilize stroke victims. Medical teams can immediately contact Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and be in contact with Sparks’ neurologists. Sparks works with the EOMC Emergency Department staff to implement the new stroke protocols, including treatment with t-PA, a potent blood-clot dissolving agent.
The goal of the initiative is to raise the regions near last place national ranking in stroke-related deaths. At its core, the program allows rural hospitals and physicians access to specialists and the ability to share patient data in real time, maximizing a patient’s chances for survival and reducing the potential for permanent loss of function. Mr. Buckner stated, “We are very proud that Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center was one of the first rural hospitals in eastern Oklahoma to “go live” with the Regional TeleStroke Program.”
The program follows stroke protocols already in place at Sparks and allows the smaller, rural facilities to follow the exact same treatment methodologies. Where time and distance may have acted as a burden for patients and providers, they now have access to the identical treatment methodology used at the larger medical center. The program uses a high-tech, video communications system to help provide immediate, life-saving treatments to stroke victims 24 hours a day. The program was established with equipment provided to the hospitals by the OSU Center for Health Sciences.
This program is expected to save lives and money because many stroke victims survive without major disability if they receive appropriate treatment within three hours. While many stroke patients are rushed to their local hospital emergency room, they still are at high risk of death or permanent disability. Why? Smaller, rural emergency rooms aren’t likely to be staffed by a neurologist who can diagnose the type of stroke and whether to treat it with t-PA, the blood-clot dissolving agent used for ischemic stroke.
As part of the program, EMT’s have been trained to perform a stroke assessment so that they can alert emergency room doctors before they arrive. Emergency room doctors and nurses also have been trained as part of the program to do a more in-depth stroke assessment upon arrival. The attending physician will call a special hotline that activates the TeleStroke System. The call goes to a nurse staffing the Call Center who then links, via the video connection, the on-call neurologist with the patient’s attending physician. Further evaluation continues after sending the patient for a battery of tests, including a CT scan. The neurologist will have immediate access to lab results, the CT brain image and a real-time, high-definition video/audio connection with the attending physician and patient. Together they can determine the appropriate treatment, such as whether to administer the TPA agent and the correct dosage.