(Kankakee, IL) – When referring to a stroke, there’s a saying in medicine that “time loss equals brain loss.” By utilizing advancements in video communication technology, Presence St. Mary’s Hospital (PSMH) works to remove time barriers in order to give stroke patients quick access to treatment.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the US. During a stroke, brain cells lacking the proper amount of blood flow begin to die within minutes. The sooner the clot-busting drug tPA is administered, the greater the chance that symptoms of stroke, such as paralysis and speech problems, can be greatly reduced. In order to provide patients with the best treatment as soon as possible, PSMH utilizes TeleStroke technology.
Similar to video conferencing, TeleStroke is a two-way advanced audio-visual technology that allows the endovascular neurologist to remotely assess and interact with the patient and their family, in addition to collaboratively consulting with the on-site physician and nurses. PSMH’s TeleStroke program can greatly reduce onset-to-treatment time, resulting in better outcomes and increased quality of life for the patient post-discharge.
TeleStroke is just one component of a comprehensive TeleHealth program that Presence Health has implemented to help transform patient care delivery. TeleHealth, also referred to as telemedicine, brings medical expertise to patients regardless of physical distance in real time, improving delivery of care and saving lives.
“TeleHealth is changing the way medicine is practiced and Presence St. Mary's Hospital continues to be the leader in delivering cutting edge technology like this to the greater Kankakee area,” said Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Abraham Thomas. “Virtual technology gives physicians the ability to have access to specialists who can assess a patient and give advice as needed – which has been proven to save lives and reduce long term deficits from strokes in communities like ours who do not have specialists like that on site. TeleHealth helps us ensure that our patients receive the highest standard of care at this hospital.”
Another way PSMH is utilizing TeleHealth technology is with their new virtual family visits.
For some people, visiting a loved one during their stay in the hospital can be a difficult task. Distance, inability to travel, age, or work schedule may all be contributing factors that might prohibit a family from being able to visit their loved ones while in the hospital. With the use of video communication technology, PSMH now offers virtual family visits 24 hours a day.
Virtual family visits allow patients at PSMH to connect with loved ones in the Kankakee area, across the country, or anywhere in the world. With designated tablet computers equipped with video conferencing software, similar to FaceTime, PSMH brings patients face-to-face with their loved ones who are unable to physically visit the hospital. The tablets can be easily moved to any patient’s room so family members can be there any time day or night.
“We are committed to transforming the patient and family experience,” says PSMH Chief Nursing Officer Karen Gallagher. “Family support is so very important to a patient's successful recovery. By embracing technology, we allow patients, families, physicians, and staff to communicate together which can help alleviate the anxiety of not actually being onsite.”
When a patient and family choose to use the service, the family receives a secure email and/or secure text message which provides them with the link for connecting with and seeing their loved one. Families can use their IOS, Android, desktop or laptop to activate the virtual family visit.
PSMH’s TeleHealth program also includes remote sitters, a video display service that allows staff to safely monitor patients who may be at risk of falling. With this service, a bedside nurse identifies a fall-risk patient and notifies the Presence Health TeleHealth center that the patient is to be monitored. A telemedicine cart is then brought into the room and a Remote Sitter-certified nursing assistant introduces themselves and explains the program to the patient. The remote sitter also can assist by communicating any patient needs directly with the bedside nurse.
“We are excited to bring these amenities to our patients,” said Gallagher. “Our plan is to explore all digital technology that will help improve our patients’ access to care and enhance the patient experience.”
About Presence St. Mary’s Hospital
Presence St. Mary’s Hospital is a 182-bed acute care facility with a Level II Emergency/Trauma Center serving Kankakee and the surrounding counties. Presence St. Mary’s Hospital has received numerous awards for their quality of care and has been recognized nationally for their achievements in patient safety and satisfaction.