WHEELING — WVU Medicine is prepared to offer a guiding hand with patients suffering from strokes through their telestroke program, helping local doctors when timing is most critical.
The telestroke program has been available for some time at Wheeling Hospital, and enables medical professionals to request advice and assistance from an on-call physician 24 hours a day.
Dr. Amelia Adcock, medical director of telestroke and teleneurology, said part of the program’s goal is to assist local hospital systems in caring for their communities.
“The person who’s providing care for a patient picks up the phone and calls our number, and that rings up whoever’s on call,” Adcock said. “… We talk about the questions, the details of the case, with the provider, and then we make arrangements to connect as is determined necessary — whether that’s talking to the patient, family member, however the case may be.
“… There are decisions to be made about, what should the care be for this patient? Are they a candidate for (treatment)? Meaning IVs, … or a mechanical clot retrieval, to clear blockages? Those are the main questions.”
Adcock said the telestroke program serves as a complementary option for the first responders and neurologists at Wheeling Hospital, able to step in and provide assistance if, for example, no one is currently available at the hospital, or if a complication arises that another set of eyes would help with.
“If someone doesn’t have the ability to respond to the acute emergency wing, in that case, there may be a bit of a delay,” she said. “Our sole purpose is to immediately respond to any question an emergency provider may have. Although my colleagues should be able to respond quickly, but then it helps the patient get care — the Wheeling provider has this in their back pocket, so they know we’ll make it as easy and efficient as possible.
“We’re not there to plug up Wheeling’s workflow; there’s plenty of medical professionals who work there, who I personally know, who can get this work done without calling (us). We don’t want to create an atmosphere where we’re delaying care — the whole point is to expedite the care.”
Adcock said there were around 10 providers in the call pool, which cover the 24-hour line in shifts, each taking about four or five days per month. WVU Medicine provides telestroke service to around 30 health systems throughout the state, though a few are not currently activated yet.