Clinical Neurosciences Center

University Hospital Extends Stroke Support to Utah County

Partnership between Timpanogos Regional Hospital and the University of Utah Stroke Center improves emergency access to specialized Stroke care via TeleStroke Network

September 13, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY/OREM - Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every three minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. Because of a new partnership between the University of Utah Stroke Center and Timpanogos Regional Hospital, access to expert stroke care has increased for people in Utah County.

“We are now recognized as meeting the State’s high standards for acute stroke care,” says Brett Kay, Director of Timpanogos Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department.” Through a systems-based approach, Timpanogos Regional Hospital is able to activate an entire team to be with the patient, to ensure that crucial time limits are met.”

Stroke is a medical emergency that requires early assessment and early treatment. Rapid identification of acute stroke patients enables the timely administration of effective and appropriate stroke therapies that can improve patient outcomes. It also allows for initiation and coordination of strategies to prevent stroke progression, recurrent stroke, and common complications.

Using real-time videoconferencing technology, the TeleStroke program provides 24-hour access between specialty-trained stroke neurologists at the Utah University Hospital and Timpanogos Regional Hospital to aid in prompt diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. The TeleStroke network instantly establishes a telecommunications link between local emergency department staff and a stroke specialist for consultation. The addition of videoconferencing capability facilitates 2-way interaction and gives the neurologist the benefit of seeing the patient face-to-face. The system also allows rapid review of radiologic imaging that aids in quick and accurate diagnosis.

“Because TeleStroke uses the same stroke specialists and stroke protocols employed here at the Stroke Center, community hospitals participating in the TeleStroke network can offer their patients the level of stroke care they would expect from a tertiary hospital,” says Jennifer Majersik, MD, Director of the University of Utah Stroke Center.

“Hospitals and health systems need to balance cost controls with providing critical services,” says Dr Stefan-M. Pulst, Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Utah.  “The efficient use of available health care resources is of paramount concern, and the costs associated with establishing a comprehensive stroke care system may prevent some facilities from implementing effective stroke management. For community hospitals without 24/7 coverage by a stroke neurologist, the TeleStroke program is a cost-effective way to deliver round-the-clock specialty stroke care to more patients.”

“In addition,” Dr. Pulst continued, “millions of health care dollars are spent each year transferring patients to hospitals that provide specialty services. With TeleStroke, the number of costly and unnecessary patient transfers is minimized, significantly reducing costs.”

The University of Utah Stroke Center is a Joint Commission Designated Stroke Center.  As such, University of Utah Health Care’s specialty-trained “Brain Attack Team” of physicians, nurses and medical staff are specially trained to identify the symptoms of stroke and are available 24/7.  University Hospital is equipped with the latest in stroke technology, including CT scanners with specialized perfusion imaging that can reveal the severity of strokes.  In addition, the University’s Clinical Neurosciences Center includes physicians and neurosurgeons who combine state-of-the-art interventional radiology and sophisticated neurosurgical techniques as needed for the treatment of strokes, including removing and dissolving clots directly or repairing ruptured blood vessels.

“The Stroke Center’s goal is to provide the best care available in the shortest timeline possible, wherever they may live. The number of acute ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population,” said Dr. Majersik.  “Our mission is to provide excellent stroke care – and not just at University Hospital, but throughout the state of Utah through our growing TeleStroke network.”

“Time is of the essence in stroke treatment because though there is treatment for stroke, it has to be started within 3 hours of stroke onset”, said Dr. Majersik. “Patients and family members should know to call 911 immediately if they have any signs or symptoms of stroke, such as weakness of the face, arm, or leg or difficulty speaking.”

Know the Signs of Stroke: Think FAST! 

  • F – Facial weakness – Can the person smile?  Does their mouth or eye droop on one side? 
  • A – Arm weakness – Can the person raise both arms?  Are they able to grasp or hold things with both arms?  Is there dizziness or unsteadiness?
  • S - Speech problems – Can the person speak clearly?  Are they slurring their words?  Can they understand what you say and follow directions?  Are they suddenly confused?
  • T – TEST ALL THREE SYMPTOMS 

If even one of the signs of a stroke are present, call 911 immediately!

About University of Utah Health Care

University of Utah Health Care is the Intermountain West’s only academic health care system, combining excellence in patient care, the latest in medical research, and teaching to provide leading-edge medicine in a caring and personal setting. It is consistently ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, and its academic partners at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Health are internationally regarded research and teaching institutions. For more information, visit www.healthcare.utah.edu.

About Timpanogos Regional Hospital

Located in Orem, this acute care hospital has expanded to 105 beds to better meet the community’s healthcare needs. Timpanogos Regional Hospital provides premier services for patients of all ages and several state-of-the-art treatment options. These include innovative maternal-fetal medicine services, a Level III NICU and advanced cardiovascular care.www.timpanogosregionalhospital.com.   

In addition to Timpanogos Regional hospitals, the MountainStar family also includes Mountain View Hospital in Payson, St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Ogden Regional Medical Center, Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Brigham City Community Hospital, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho, and numerous outpatient centers and primary care physician clinics. www.notbiggerjustbetterhealth.com.

Media Contacts:
University of Utah Health Care: Dennis Jolley 801-585-7777 (office), 801-824-7217 (mobile), dennis.jolley@hsc.utah.edu
Timpanogos Regional Hospital: Ryan White 801-714-6515 (Office), 801-243-0310 (mobile), ryan.white@mountainstarhealth.com