Program uses technology to connect doctors to patients in remote locations.
Madisonville, KY (June 21, 2021) – Baptist Health Madisonville is a link in the health system's telestroke program, using technology to bring the expertise of doctors with advanced training in treating strokes to patients in other, remote locations.
These stroke experts work with the patient’s local Emergency Department physicians to recommend diagnosis and treatment. Physicians communicate via digital video cameras aided by internet telecommunications, smartphones, tablets and other technology.
“Our Baptist Health Lexington and Baptist Health Louisville hospitals operate as central hubs for this 24/7 and 365-day service,” said Murali K. Kolikonda, MD, system medical director of teleneurology and a vascular neurologist with Baptist Health Medical Group in Lexington. “We can see the patient right away – virtually at the emergency department and inpatient setting – and work with the local physicians on a diagnosis and treatment, usually at the local hospital. The stroke-trained physician is on the video call within minutes.
“At the end of our call, we discuss the level of care beyond what the hospital can provide with their resources, and we make recommendations for transfer to one of our hub sites and or the nearest stroke-certified center.”
“Being able to provide high quality neurology services in Madisonville is essential for our patients and community,” said Wayne Lipson, MD, Baptist Health Madisonville Chief Medical Officer. “As Dr. Kolikonda mentioned, most of these cases are able to be managed at Baptist Health Madisonville, but with the assistance of the telestroke physicians we can ensure that patients are getting the best care at the appropriate location.”
How it works
The Baptist Health telestroke program operates on a hub-and-spoke system. Stroke patients are assessed at their nearest local hospital (spoke) which is linked to the expert center (hub) to provide clinical examination and cerebral imaging for diagnosis and to deliver clot-dissolving medication, if needed, before transfer to a stroke unit for higher level of care at the expert center (hub).
Two large Baptist Health stroke-certified centers -- Baptist Health Lexington, a comprehensive stroke center, and Baptist Health Louisville, a thrombectomy-capable center -- serve as major hub sites. Currently serving as spoke sites are Baptist Health Corbin, Baptist Health Richmond, Baptist Health La Grange and Baptist Health Madisonville. Baptist Health Madisonville was the first to use the system.
Baptist Health Lexington is linked with Baptist Health Richmond and Baptist Health Corbin – all hospitals along the I-75 corridor. Baptist Health Louisville is now linked with Baptist Health La Grange.
“This advanced neurological care provides fast intervention and helps overcome traditional barriers, such as distance and time, which can be major factors in rural or remote areas,” said Isaac J. Myers II, MD, Baptist Health’s chief health integration officer and Baptist Health Medical Group president. “Minutes matter during stroke evaluation, and receiving care immediately is critical to obtaining the best outcome. Another benefit of the telestroke program is the greater likelihood that the patient will be cared for at a hospital close to their family and support system.”
The program is expected to expand to other hospitals in the nine-hospital system and will be explored for use in hospitals outside the Baptist Health system.
Recognizing the signs of stroke
Learn to recognize early signs of a stroke by using B.E.F.A.S.T
BALANCE: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
EYES: Is the person having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?
FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one side drift downward?
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.