Wimmera Health Care Group has recorded a huge improve in stroke treatment times that put them well ahead of the national average and in line with the UK and US.

The health service was one of 16 rural hospitals to partner with The Florey Institute to trial the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) Program in 2016. The trial has since finished and the results have been so positive, Wimmera Health Care Group has taken on the program permanently according to nurse practitioner candidate Jarrod Hunter.

"The VST program put in place a series of steps to decrease the time it took a potential stroke patient to get a CT scan, have those scans assessed and then potentially receive vital treatment called thrombolysis that is very timely, basically within 60 minutes," Mr Hunter said.

"Our times from ‘door to needle’ have reduced by 28 minutes and 57% of patients are receiving thrombolysis within the recommended standard of 60 minutes from hospital arrival.

"In Australia, only 30% of patients with ischaemic stroke in Australia receive this treatment in 60 minutes of hospital arrival, compared to 59% in the US and 62% in the UK, so our figures are put us up there with them.

"It is a whole team effort that has made this possible and I think everyone involved should be congratulated for their efforts. It is great for a rural hospital like ours to get results like this and show that the tyranny of distance does not have to get in the way of quality care.

"We are using technology and great relationships with metropolitan based specialists to work around our distance and this is now part of our core business and we should be really proud of that."

At Wimmera Health Care Group it takes 14 minutes for a stroke patient from the time of arrival to having their CT scan, compared to the national average of 25 minutes. The time it takes for a stroke patient from arrival to having a video consult with a neurologist in Melbourne is 11 minutes, compared to the national average of 43 minutes.

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