2017-05-18 / Front Page

REACH Telestroke program saves lives at Wills Memorial


Thanks to the REACH Telestroke program implemented within Wills Memorial Hospital, Wilkes County native Gene Thornton encountered life-saving technol­ogy after he suffered a stroke on February 26, and was rushed to the hospital for care. He is pic­tured with his wife Caroline, who rushed him to the hospital for treatment. Thanks to the REACH Telestroke program implemented within Wills Memorial Hospital, Wilkes County native Gene Thornton encountered life-saving technol­ogy after he suffered a stroke on February 26, and was rushed to the hospital for care. He is pic­tured with his wife Caroline, who rushed him to the hospital for treatment. Thanks to the REACH Telestroke program implemented within Wills Memorial Hospital, Wilkes County native Gene Thornton encountered life- saving technology after he suffered a stroke on February 26, and was rushed to the hospital for care – making May’s designation as “National Stroke..A.ware­ness” . month all-the-more of an impact on local lives.

“That morning Gene came to me and said he was numb all down his left side,” his wife Caroline Thornton said. “I knew immediately that is was a stroke and we had to get to the hospital quickly.”

Thornton suffered. .an .ischemic..stro­ke ,. but. thankfully. the. Wills.. Memo­rial . telestroke team was prepared for such an emergency, and used the REACH technology to connect with a neurologists at Augusta University, allowing for immediate observation of Thornton.

“They got us hooked up with the lead doctor at Augusta University, and they asked me lots of questions,” his wife said.

After examining Thornton’s CT scan, experts at Augusta University determined that he had an ischemic stroke, which allowed for instruction to be imparted to Wills Memorial staff for his care.

Thornton was inject with tPA – a clot dissolving treatment that allows the blood to begin flowing to the brain – and after he was stabilized, he was then transferred to Augusta University for further care.

The REACH program utilizes a mon­itor that conducts a two-way camera system, allowing for emergency room staff to communicate with Augusta University Hospital neurologists for patient care.

“These neurologists can see the patient in our ER room and the patient can see the neurologist, so it provides a real face-to-face evaluation of the potential stroke patient by a neurolo­gist,” Director of Nursing Angie Rad­ford explained. “The ER staff assists in the evaluation following the directions of the neurologist, as well as entering vital information into the computer system.

“The neurologist can view entered information as well as the CT scan re­sults immediately after being done, and the neurologist uses the combination of the CT results and this evaluation of the patient to make a decision regarding giving the clot busting medication,” Radford said.

“Kelly Crookham and Dr. Williams were on it, so we couldn’t ask for better care,” Thornton included. “Gene had a stroke on Sunday and was back to work on Friday.”

Recently, Thornton underwent physi­cal therapy at Wills Memorial, but has been reported as “feeling much better.”

“Thank God we have Wills Memo­rial,” Thornton said.

According to the Centers for Dis­ease Control (CDC), stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and the leading cause of long-term dis­ability. The CDC further asserts that 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic and can be treated with the tPA injection.

As apart of National Stroke Aware­ness month, several association are alerting the public of stroke symptoms. According to the American Stroke As­sociation, symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness in the face, arms, or legs, as well as on one side of the body; sudden confusion and trouble speaking; sudden trouble seeing; sudden trouble walking; and sudden severe headaches with no known cause.

Representatives with Wills Memorial consider the entity especially fortunate since it’s able to provide the community with REACH technology. “It is a won­derful asset that Augusta University provides for many rural hospitals that don’t have access to a neurologist,” Radford said.

Thanks to REACH, Wills Memo­rial Hospital has consulted 24 stroke patients in the last 16 months, and out of that number, 10 were administered the tPA “clot buster” injection, Com­munity Relations Director Susan Pope further reported.

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