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Banner Health program improves stroke care in Northeastern Colorado


STERLING, Colo. (Jan. 15, 2013) — Banner Health knows that when it comes to stroke care, every minute lapsed increases the risk for permanent brain damage.

That’s why later this month Banner Health will introduce a telemedicine program at Sterling Regional MedCenter in Sterling. The telestroke program will provide fast assessment and treatment for stroke patients. The stroke robot will be available in Sterling beginning Jan. 21.

The telestroke program uses secured video links to provide patients immediate, around-the-clock access to board-certified neurologists who are experts in stroke care.

When healthcare providers at either rural facility suspect a person is having a stroke, they will use the telemedicine program to call a neurologist at Swedish Medical Center in Denver. That neurologist will use a high-definition camera that is placed on the robot at the patient’s bedside to examine patients. The robot also has a screen and microphone to provide two-way video and audio communication. The physician can assess and interview the patient, and talk to family members and other care providers just as if he or she was in the room. Most importantly, the neurologist can provide the valuable consultation about the plan of care for the patient with the on-site Emergency Department physician.

North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley and McKee Medical Center in Loveland also use the stroke robot to consult with neurologists in Denver. East Morgan County Hospital in Brush is adding the program this month.

Each year about 795,000 people in the United States experience a stroke.  It is the country’s third-leading cause of death.

There are two main types of stroke and treatment for each type is different:

  • An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked due to a clot in an artery. This clot blocks the flow of blood, and the oxygen it carries, to the brain.
  • A hemorrhagic stroke is bleeding from the small brain arteries into the brain.
  • A third event called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage that lasts a few minutes but does not cause brain damage. A TIA can be a precursor to an actual stroke.

Each type of stroke requires a different type of treatment, which may be given in a rural facility or may require transport to a facility offering more specialized service. Having the telemedicine allows the neurologist from Swedish to consult with the Emergency physician on site and possibly alleviate the need for the patient to be transferred to a different hospital.

Stroke statistics: (Source: National Stroke Association)

  • 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer strokes each year
  • 133,000 people in the U.S. die each year because of stroke
  • From 1997-2007, the stroke death rate fell by 34 percent and the number of deaths fell by 18 percent
  • There are about 7 million stroke survivors
  • Up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable.

Risk factors for stroke include hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking and sickle cell anemia.

EDITORS’ NOTE: If you would like to attend a demonstration of the stroke robot and interview healthcare providers at Swedish Medical Center in Denver or Sterling Regional MedCenter in Sterling for media coverage, please call to make arrangements.

Sterling Regional MedCenter has provided outstanding medical care to residents of northeastern Colorado and the surrounding area since 1938. We are a 25-bed acute-care hospital with state-of-the-art technology, a full range of health care services, and a staff dedicated to providing our patients with excellent care. We are also home to the David Walsh Cancer Center, which offers an unprecedented level of cancer care to northeastern Colorado residents.

Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns or manages 23 acute-care hospitals, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

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