CHICKASHA — When it comes to a stroke, every minute counts. A special program at Integris is making the most of those minutes in rural communities."Stroke is the biggest disabling disease in the United States. It's the most likely thing to not quite kill you," said Integris Stroke Neurologist Dr. Charles Morgan, M.D. A stroke is sudden blockage of an artery. The blockage deprives the brain of fresh oxygen filled blood. Doctors say there is typically a three hour window to seek help after a stroke, before serious damage is done. Dr. Morgan says minutes matter when it comes to the damage a stroke can cause.Nearly two months ago, Chickasha Pastor Dwain Jones had a stroke while at home with his wife."That's when I screamed to her, honey, I'm having a stroke. My right leg wouldn't work. I couldn't work my right hand and it scared me," Jones said.Jones was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Chickasha. The facility doesn't have a neurologist on staff, but they do have a program called TeleStroke. Within minutes of Jones arrival to the hospital, ER Director Dr. Bruce Storms, M.D. called Dr. Morgan in Oklahoma City. Less than 20 minutes after that, Dr. Morgan was in front of his computer using Telestroke. The system uses two-way interactive video conferencing between patient and doctor. Dr. Morgan sat in his office in Oklahoma City and talked with Jones and Dr. Storms in Chickasha via video."It really is a comfort both to the physicians and the patients to know that there's a specialist actually physically looking at them," said Dr. Storms.Dr. Morgan was able to assess Jones condition and prescribe tPA, a drug that opens up stroke blockages. Jones, most likely, would not have had the drug if it wasn't for TeleStroke."It just lifted my faith for Dr. Morgan to be so confident. He knew what he was doing," said Jones.Jones is the 1,000th TeleStroke patient since the program started in 2009. The life of every single TeleStroke patient was saved thanks to TeleStroke."We've just been one success story after another and we're just proud to be part of this program," said Dr. Storms.
Integris has the ability to use TeleStroke in 16 different rural hospitals. Neurologists who have the on-call TeleStroke pager have three minutes to respond to a page and another 12 minutes to get to a computer with TeleStroke. The goal is to prescribe tPA, if possible, within the hour. tPA has about a 5% chance of causing bleeding and a 95% chance of extending a patient's life.
To learn more about stroke and tPA click here.