PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Medical facilities for military veterans are relying more and more on improved technology to enhance care for vets.
One of those instances is on full display at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center’s intensive care unit. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller sat-in on a demonstration that shows how the technology could prove to be a real life-saver.
“I feel very weak and numb and tingly.”
A young veteran for the purpose of a demonstration discussed with a doctor at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center her stroke-like symptoms. But with no neurologist available there, who are you going to call? The VA used its TeleHealth program to reach out to a Tele-ICU Monitoring Center in Cincinnati. Within seconds, a neurologist in Kansas City joined a video chat through an iPad and microphone.
Despite being more than 1,100 miles away, Neurologist Sharyl Martini, MD, Ph.D. evaluated the “patient”. Besides being a neurologist, Dr. Martini is the Medical Director of the VA National TeleStroke Program. She and other participating neurologists are able to make time-sensitive treatment recommendations.
TeleStroke helps the VA overcome an obstacle many hospitals face; providing state-of-the-art stroke care at a moment’s notice. Dr. Martini said, “The VA has come up with a really unique solution by pooling calls across the entire country so there are about 20 academic stroke experts, some of the best people in their fields and they all share calls currently across 30 VA Medical Centers.”
Doreen Lysiak, RN, MSN is the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Associate Chief Nurse. In discussing TeleStroke and the TeleHealth program in general she said, “It provides us with the confidence to be able to have another set of eyes that is that expert while we’re doing the physical exam here on our end.”
The collaboration of high-tech meets hands-on allows veteran patients to receive the right care at the right place at the right time.
“We have the ability to provide that here and timely and keep the care here in the VA where they know and they love,” said Ms. Lysiak while discussing the veteran patient population.
Since all VA Medical Centers’ health records are connected, offsite neurologists can also view the results of the patient’s CT scan. It helps them determine if the stroke is due to a blockage and treatable with a clot-busting drug or if it’s caused by a hemorrhage and then order a different treatment.