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UC Irvine Health Telestroke Program Provides Remote Stroke Care To Patients Miles Away

UC Irvine Health’s recently formed affiliation with Corona Regional Medical Center remotely provided acute stroke therapy to 62 patients residing miles away. The telemedicine stroke program is proving successful, in its first year of operation extended help to these patients, who were diagnosed via an innovative system that comprises two-way videoconferencing and image sharing. Patients were later transferred to UC Irvine Medical Center for high-level care.

Stroke neurologists of UC Irvine Health conferred 226 individuals who visited the Corona Regional emergency department with stroke-like symptoms.

“The first six hours are critical in stroke care because the faster a patient receives proper treatment for stroke, the better the chances for recovery,” said Dr. Wengui Yu, director of the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center. “The telestroke program enables us to extend our reach beyond the walls of the stroke center in a way that was not possible before. The program’s success demonstrates how advanced technology can be used to enhance patient care, increase survival rates and improve patient outcomes.”

Closing the distance between provider and patient

The story of Maria Ortiz, a resident of Norco, illustrates the power of the Corona Regional – UC Irvine Health program.

When Maria was taken to the emergency room after suffering a stroke, her husband, George saw her surrounded by doctors and nurses. But then he heard a calm voice coming from a video monitor giving instructions about his wife’s treatment. When he looked up, he saw UC Irvine Health vascular neurologist Dr. Ali Razmara, who was actually 25 miles away.

The doctor explained that Maria’s stroke was caused by a blood clot and prescribed her the clot-busting drug tPA before she being airlifted from Corona Regional to UC Irvine Medical Center for advanced care.

Many community hospitals aren’t fitted to provide first-class specialized care found at a comprehensive stroke center like UC Irvine. For example, without the telestroke program, Maria wouldn’t have received tPA until she was taken to a stroke center, likely losing precious time.

“The telestroke program leverages patient and physician access to the resources and expertise of a comprehensive stroke center in a cost-effective, efficient way,” said Dr. Yu. “We can now provide diagnostic expertise and order life-saving treatment for patients at their community hospital, and consult with their physicians throughout diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.”