New telestroke equipment at Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross will enable physicians to diagnose and treat stroke patients more quickly. “Time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing stroke,” said Michael Hamm, D.O., director of Emergency Services for Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross. “Mere seconds can make a difference in preventing severe brain damage or death.”
The two-way video-based equipment allows emergency physicians and neurologists in Waycross to examine and discuss images of a stroke patient’s brain with leading specialists at Mayo Clinic’s location in Jacksonville. The equipment features a pan-tilt zoom camera system to optimize viewing, advanced audio and video, and is lightweight and portable so it can easily be transferred to the patient.
“By sharing images remotely and getting additional expertise, we can determine the best course of treatment immediately,” said Dr. Hamm. “It’s like having additional specialists right in the patient’s room, any time of the day or night.” Specialists at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville can actually speak to the patient and decide if he or she needs to be transported to Jacksonville for more advanced treatment.
Quick transfers to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville are seamless now that the hospital (formerly Satilla Regional Medical Center) is part of Mayo Clinic Health System. If patients need a transfer, Mayo specialists in Jacksonville are prepared and ready to begin treatment right away. “The faster a patient gets the right treatment, the better chances they have for recovery,” said Dr. Hamm.
Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in Georgia and is a major cause of disability, according to the Georgia Division of Public Health. “Many health crises give advanced warning before they become life threatening,” explains Michael Baker, M.D., a neurologist with Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross. “Stroke symptoms are very sudden and may include slurred speech, dizziness or severe headache. It is absolutely vital to seek medical attention immediately if you think someone is experiencing stroke,” said Dr. Baker.
Unfortunately, stroke victims do not always fit a certain profile, although there are factors that play a role in who is more likely to experience a stroke. Diabetes, high blood pressure and being overweight may contribute, but are not always present in stroke patients. Family history, race and gender may play a role as well; women, African Americans and Hispanic people have a higher likelihood of stroke. Many strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes, but in the event a stroke occurs, telestroke equipment can make a vital difference.
“As a community hospital, we have excellent resources, but on our own, some expertise is out of our reach,” said Kenneth Calamia, M.D., chief executive officer for Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross. “This new high-tech stroke equipment is just one of many examples of how our integration with Mayo Clinic will bring advanced health care resources to our residents in southeast Georgia.”
Collaboration among the vast network of Mayo specialists to provide the best outcomes for patients is a Mayo tradition. Increasingly, telemedicine, which connects experts at locations hundreds of miles away, is becoming more common at Mayo Clinic.
“We are excited to offer this advanced technology to our patients,” said Dr. Calamia. “The overall goal is better health outcomes for stroke patients.”
Recognizing the Signs of Stroke:
- Numbness, paralysis or weakness in one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or comprehending
- Vision problems affecting one or both eyes
- Overwhelming headache for unknown reasons
- Issue with balance and dizziness
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