Wimmera Health Care Group has recently become one of 16 Victorian Hospitals taking part in a program to increase the response time and treatment of strokes.
Janette McCabe is the program facilitator and said the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Program (VST), which is led by the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, started at Wimmera Health Care Group in March.
Mrs McCabe said the program made it possible for hospitals to immediately connect with metropolitan neurologists via telemedicine and obtain specialist advice on their patients presenting with a stroke.
“Telemedicine, a form of video conferencing, allows medical staff and patients in Horsham to see and speak with neurologists to assess people who have suffered a stroke and get the best treatment for them,” Mrs McCabe said.
“This is so important because stroke is sometimes quite difficult to diagnose and treatment is time dependent so urgent testing and rapid assessment is critical. Being able to get specialist advice can have a dramatic effect on treatment and recovery.”
Mrs McCabe said between 50 and 60 people with acute stroke symptoms attend the Emergency Department at Wimmera Health Care Group every year and she was excited to be part of the program.
“The ability to tap into a neurologist so quickly helps improve diagnosis and treatment,” she said.
“The drug used to treat people who have experienced a stroke must be given as soon as possible and some patients may be transferred to Melbourne for a clot removing procedure. Shortening the assessment time means more people will be eligible for time critical stroke treatments.”
Mrs McCabe said being involved in the program also highlights the need to quickly recognise stroke symptoms.
“We do encourage people to remember the saying, Think F.A.S.T Act Fast!” she said.
Face- Has their face dropped?
Arms- Can they lift their arms?
Speech- Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time- Time is critical, if you see any of these signs, call 000 immediately.