New technology geared to providing more effective treatment for stroke victims recently received its ‘baptism of fire’ at Tyler Memorial Hospital.
Charles Knight, 73, of Wyalusing, was the first patient at Tyler to benefit from Tele-Stroke.
According to Ted Kross, Director of Emergency Services at Tyler, Tele-Stroke is a computerized video system where a person can speak to and receive diagnosis from a specialist - even when the physician is at another medical facility many miles away.
Charles Knight’s ordeal began on Nov. 9, around 2:50 p.m. His wife, Marlene Knight, found him slumped over the wheel of his truck in the driveway.
“He said I’m really, really tired,” Marlene recalled.
Alarmed, Marlene summoned her son Tonka, and the two of them transferred Charles to a car, and drove him to Tyler Memorial Hospital.
“The corners of his mouth were turning down and he was drooling,” Marlene recalled, who was sitting in the back seat with her husband.
The Knights arrived at the Tyler emergency room about 35 minutes later. Marlene insisted on remaining with Charles during the procedure.
“When I came into the room, they had already hooked up to a lot of equipment,” Marlene said. “There was a laptop with a monitor. They told me this was the first time they were doing this with a new system.”
Kross, who is also an RN, was part of team which provided Charles’ initial treatment - along with Dr. Jeffrey Lubin and Lesley Sorg, RN.
Kross explained that Commonwealth Health -of which Tyler Memorial Hospital is a part - has been incorporating a program in which all of its facilities will be accredited as acute stroke-ready facilities. Part of the accreditation process required the incorporation of the Tele-Stroke system at the hospital. Tele-Stroke provides medical personnel with direct access to the Penn State Hershey Stroke Center via LionNet.
Although Tyler will not receive accreditation until later in the year, it was decided using Tele-Stroke would be the best course of action to assist Charles.
“Time is of the essence when treating a stroke,” Kross explained.
Despite the fact that this was the first time Tyler had used the TeleStroke system, Charles and Marlene were not concerned – confident that hospital personnel were providing the best possible treatment.
“A specialist down in Hershey came on screen and had Charles describe how he felt,” Marlene said. “He said that based upon the signs, he was definitely having a stroke.”
The screen was a laptop computer, utilizing a video system similar to Skype.
The specialist was Dr. Muhammad Ibrahimi, a neurologist at the Penn State Hershey Stroke Center.
Based upon his conversation with Charles and other information, Dr. Ibrahimi recommended the administration of a ‘tissue plasminegen activator’ - commonly referred to as a ‘clot buster.’
“When they asked me what I thought, I said ‘I don’t see why not,’” Charles explained.
Charles said he began to improve dramatically about five minutes after the clot buster was administered.
“I remember everything from that point on,” he said.
Although Charles showed dramatic improvement, his medical team decided to send him down to Hershey as a precautionary measure.
Because the weather was bad that day, Charles was transported to the Hershey Medical Center via ambulance, with Tonka riding along with him. Charles said he felt fine during the ride – talking to the ambulance crew during the entire trip.
“When we arrived, they told me I should move to Las Vegas, because I was one lucky guy,” Charles explained.
At the Hershey Medical Center it was determined that the TPA had destroyed the clot. Charles was put on blood thinners and other treatment. He was discharged on Nov. 12, and is now recovering at home.
Strokes can often prove to be very debilitating for the afflicted. However, Charles is able to move and function normally, thanks to the swift treatment he received at Tyler via the TeleStroke system.
“I walk every day on the treadmill,” Charles explained.
Marlene said that Charles had just come in with a load of wood he gathered with Tonka.
Both Charles and Marlene are certain the TeleStroke system at Tyler made a huge difference in his recovery.
Kross explained that stroke victims have a window of three to four-and-a-half hours for treatment. Patients who quickly receive proper treatment often recover fully following a stroke. Those not treated quickly enough usually suffer debilitating effects - such as loss of motor skills - due to brain damage.
Stroke victims usually receive treatment at primary stroke center located in larger metropolitan areas such as Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Kross explained. By law, ambulances and other emergency vehicles must transport stroke victims directly to such facilities. The problem is the time necessary to transport them - particularly from rural areas such as Wyoming County.
Once Tyler becomes an accredited as an acute stroke ready facility, emergency personnel will be able to drop off stroke victims at the emergency room. The Tele-Stroke system will give medical personnel the ability to contact specialists, providing much faster treatment, Kross explained.
Tyler will also gain another advantage because the system also provides access to facilities with specialize in neurological disorders, Kross said.