Pinal County residents in need of emergency medical care for a stroke may benefit from a Mayo Clinic "telestroke" program that will now be available at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center (CGRMC).
A recent agreement between Casa Grande Regional Medical Center and Mayo Clinic in Arizona means the service featuring a portable, self-propelled robot will start in Casa Grande as early as October.
Mayo Clinic pioneered clinical research in Arizona to study telemedicine as a means of serving patients with stroke in non-urban settings. Today, Mayo Clinic serves as the "hub" in a network of 10 other "spoke" centers, all but one in Arizona. Casa Grande Regional Medical Center will become the 11th hospital to be part of the telestroke service from Mayo Clinic.
When Mayo Clinic began its stroke telemedicine program in 2005, statistics revealed that 40 percent of residents in Arizona lived outside an area with immediate stroke expertise. In telestroke care, a telestroke robot located in a rural hospital allows a stroke patient be evaluated in real time by a neurology specialist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. The Mayo Clinic stroke neurologist, whose face appears on the screen of the robot, consults with emergency room physicians at the rural site and evaluates the patient.
Patients showing signs of stroke can be examined by the neurologist who may use a computer, smart phone technology, portable tablets or laptops. In addition to assessing the patient, the neurologist can view scans of the patient's brain to detect possible damage from a hemorrhage or blocked artery.
A major benefit of the collaboration is that patients with stroke symptoms who meet the criteria can often be administered clot-busting medications within the narrow window of time necessary to minimize permanent injury to the brain.
"Excellent, capable emergency physicians at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center can ring the telestroke hotline and be instantly connected with Mayo Clinic's stroke experts," says Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., Professor of Neurology, and medical director of Mayo Clinic Telestroke. "Urgent and immediate virtual care can be provided to patients - collaboration between stroke neurologists and physicians at the remote sites has resulted in 96 percent accuracy in diagnosing stroke."