Technology delivers a new stroke treatment for Taree

Jun 14 2013

Manning Hospital is now benefiting from stroke therapy developed at HMRI and John Hunter

Life-saving stroke treatment developed at John Hunter Hospital and HMRI will be delivered to patients in the Manning Region thanks to new telehealth technology.

“Telehealth technology allows the exchange of information and diagnostic test results via videoconferencing and internet technology, shaving hours off treatment times,” Conjoint Professor Chris Levi, the project’s clinical lead, said.

It means the people of the Manning Valley will have access to stroke care from one of the best stroke teams in Australia – without leaving their community.

The Taree Tele-thrombolysis service has been developed in partnership with the local community, and builds on Hunter New England Health’s reputation for healthcare innovation and the world-class stroke research being conducted at the Hunter Medical Research Institute. The University of Newcastle is also a partner.

Clinicians will work together using real-time videoconferencing to more quickly assess ischemic stroke sufferers’ suitability for Thrombolysis – one of the most effective treatments available for this type of stroke.

Professor Levi said Manning stroke patients who were found to be eligible for Thrombolysis were currently transported by ambulance to John Hunter Hospital. But because the treatment could only be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of stroke, few made the trip in time.

“We’ll be able to save more lives and reduce the level of disability experienced by many stroke patients,” Professor Levi said.

“Safety will also be enhanced, with fewer unnecessary high-speed transfers. And local clinicians will learn new skills in acute stroke management that will benefit the entire region.”

Tuncurry paramedic Steve Martyn said NSW Ambulance would be at the frontline of early detection, and paramedics had received special training to identify patients who might benefit from Thrombolysis.

“Paramedics will provide early notification of suspected stroke cases to Manning Hospital, so emergency department staff can mobilise the right support,” Mr Martyn said.

Professor Levi said Manning clinicians and JHH Stroke Neurologists would assess patients together via bedside critical care cameras, and share CT scans and other diagnostic test results via the internet.

“Importantly, if the service proves successful, we could look at expanding it to other areas,” he said.

Professor Levi said it was very important that the community recognised stroke symptoms and understood treatment was available.

“We want people to think and act FAST: Face, Arms, Speech and Time. Has the person’s mouth dropped? Can they use their arms? Is their speech affected? Can they understand you? If you see any of these signs – call 000.”

The Taree Tele-thrombolysis service is a partnership between Manning Hospital, John Hunter Hospital Neurology, HNE Health Information Technology, NSW Ambulance (Northern), the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Mid North Coast Diagnostic Imaging and local Quota clubs.

Dr Levi today thanked Quota in particular, for their help and support to raise money to support the service.

For more information on stroke, contact the StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 or the National Stroke Foundation at www.strokefoundation.com.au.

 
FACTS

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke and is the result of the blockage of blood vessels to the brain.

Thrombolysis is a ‘clot-busting’ drug that dissolves the clot that causes Ischemic stroke. It can restore blood supply to the brain, saving lives and reducing the level of disability, but it doesn’t work for all strokes. Thrombolysis must be delivered within 4.5 hours of the onset of stroke, pending assessment of CT scans and expert neurology review.
 
HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community.