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New Telestroke Program Connects Patients to Specialists at Beth Israel in Real-Time

When residents of the Merrimack Valley are suffering stroke-like symptoms, clinical staff at Lawrence General now have direct access to neurologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to help make a diagnosis thanks to a new telestroke program.

This new telestroke service employs Skype-like image-sharing technology and video conferencing that enables clinical staff at Lawrence General and Beth Israel to rapidly assess patients in real time to assure that they receive the most appropriate therapy in the most appropriate location. The program is intended to improve stroke-related care and outcomes, with a strong emphasis on keeping suitable patients local and close to home.

Lawrence General’s new telestroke service with Beth Israel augments the neurological consultations that are also provided locally by New England Neurological Associates, adding extra strength and bandwidth to an already exceptional program.

“When a person suffers a stroke, they risk losing neurologic function as time passes,” says George Kondylis, MD, our chief of Emergency Medicine. “This telestroke service can save time and, in many cases, may help to reduce the severity of one’s stroke or stroke-like symptoms.”

Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs an artery which supplies blood to the brain. The oxygen-deprived brain cells begin to die at a rate of roughly two million per minute, and the longer the clot obstructs blood flow, the more serious the physiological impacts, such as impaired speech and paralysis. In many instances, the administration of a clot-dissolving drug can save the patient’s life or dramatically reduce the severity of the symptoms.

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Think it’s a stroke? Act F-A-S-T

FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of stroke. Recognition of stroke and calling 9-1-1 will determine how quickly someone will receive help and treatment, Getting to a hospital rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery.

  • FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does the arm 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.

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