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Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014

News

Advanced Stroke Care at Forbes Regional Hospital Addresses Critical Need in Eastern Suburbs

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) has established a telemedicine program to enhance stroke services at Forbes Hospital, providing advanced, specialized care for patients in Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs.

A team of stroke-trained neurologists from Allegheny General Hospital’s Joint Commission-accredited stroke center are now available around the clock for telemedicine consultations at Forbes. A secure video monitoring system provides a real-time connection between AGH’s neurologists, interventional neuroradiologists and endovascular neurosurgeons and Forbes’ Emergency Department staff.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is restricted and requires urgent early response to decrease the loss of brain tissue. Because emergency medical services providers are trained to take patients who appear to have recent onset stroke to the nearest accredited stroke center for care, a specialized stroke center was established at Forbes to provide critical access to sophisticated care for residents of Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs.

“With stroke, the key is speed of service,” said Mark Rubino, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Forbes Hospital.

“We say time is muscle for heart,” Rubino said. “Well, time is brain for stroke. If you have a stroke in the eastern suburbs, you don’t want to have to travel into the city for care.”

National research has shown that patients treated at Joint Commission-certified stroke centers receive the most sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic treatments more quickly and with better results than those treated elsewhere.

Allegheny General Hospital (AGH), West Penn Allegheny’s flagship tertiary medical center, became certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission in 2006. AGH was awarded the Commission’s Gold Seal of ApprovalTM, bestowed to medical centers that are uniquely capable of providing the most advanced and effective treatment for patients who suffer from stroke. The program annually treats more than 900 stroke patients. Forbes Hospital earned the Joint Commission’s stroke center accreditation in 2010.
 

Providing telestroke services to Forbes is West Penn Allegheny’s first step in a plan to enhance stroke care services throughout the System, extending its telemedicine programs to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights and Canonsburg Hospital in Washington County.

“As the third leading cause of death in the United States, combined with the aging U.S. population, stroke cases are likely to increase,” said Ashis Tayal, MD, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at AGH.

“Our team is working together with the Emergency Medicine team at Forbes to best help patients in the eastern suburbs.”

AGH’s stroke-trained neurologists and interventional neuroradiologists will evaluate patients, review brain scans and work with Emergency Department physicians at Forbes to provide advanced stroke care.

Data from the American Heart Association suggests that the best care is delivered when a stroke-trained neurologist is available at the patient’s bedside or via telemedicine, Rubino said.

“You have more utilization of tPA clot busters when care is being directed by a stoke neurologist either in person or via telemedicine,” Dr. Rubino said. “Telemedicine-based assessment and treatment by a stoke neurologist is actually preferable to having care managed by an on-site physician who is not specifically trained and certified in the care of stroke.”

Each year, approximately 700,000 people in the United States experience a new or recurrent stroke. The disease is the nation’s third leading cause of death and the number one cause of serious, long-term disability.

Forbes’ Gerald McGinnis Emergency Department is among the region’s busiest, seeing nearly 45,000 patients each year. The state-of-the-art facility was completely renovated in 2006 and houses 29 large, private exam rooms and a dedicated six-bed Quick Care Area for prompt treatment of patients with non life-threatening illnesses.

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