Lake Chelan Community Hospital
Rural Stroke Victim Saved with Telestroke Technology
Buck Garton’s life nearly ended in the fall of 2010. When he began experiencing stroke symptoms in a rural community in central Washington, he was hundreds of miles from the nearest stroke specialist. Luckily, Buck was taken to nearby Lake Chelan Community Hospital, where he received life-saving care from doctors in Chelan and a neurologist from Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
There’s a simple saying in the world of stroke treatment: Time is brain. Clot-dissolving drugs can lead to excellent outcomes for stroke patients. But results are best when treatment begins within the first 60 minutes of a suspected stroke – the “golden hour” of stroke treatment. To help ensure its patients had access to fast-reacting, specialized care, Lake Chelan Community Hospital teamed with the Swedish Acute Stroke Telemedicine Program – located in Seattle – to make stroke expertise available to patients in Chelan. Together, Lake Chelan Community Hospital and Swedish implemented a common set of treatment protocols for evaluation and treatment, provided through telemedicine links. The system also allows a neurologist located remotely to review brain imaging, a critical step in making a diagnosis.
The challenge of this technical-clinical solution was to create a reliable link between the facilities with a limited budget and IT staff. Working with the Swedish Acute Stroke Telemedicine Program, ConnectMD created a private medical network to efficiently connect healthcare facilities on the telestroke network. This network operates with a combination of virtual private networks and direct connection between facilities and the ConnectMD medical network core. To bring Lake Chelan Community Hospital onto the network, a direct connection was made from its network to the ConnectMD and telestroke medical networks.
With these linkages in place, Lake Chelan Community Hospital has 24/7, real-time access to Swedish Medical Center’s nationally recognized stroke team. The virtual bedside neurological evaluations provided through the telestroke program have bolstered Lake Chelan Community Hospital’s stroke-support service.
A 25-bed community hospital serving residents and visitors in scenic Chelan, Washington, Lake Chelan Community Hospital provides critical access services and a 24-hour emergency department. Because it is located 200 miles from Seattle and 180 miles from Spokane, Lake Chelan Community Hospital relies on technology and partnerships with larger hospitals to provide the highest-quality medical services possible. Lake Chelan Community Hospital is a national leader in telemedicine, known for strengthening collaboration between its local physicians and the larger network of facilities in the region to improve patient safety, operational efficiency, and quality of health care. In fact, Lake Chelan Community Hospital has twice been recognized by Hospitals and Health Networks – the journal of the American Hospital Association – as one of the nation’s “Most Wired” hospitals.