New technology helping to save stroke patients

MIDDLETOWN, OH (FOX19) - Some new technology is helping to save stroke patients.

The Middletown Fire Department has teamed up with the Atrium Medical Center to be the first in the area to use the 'stroke telemedicine' system.

It all started less than two weeks ago when the Middletown Fire Department received a 911 call about a man having a stroke. After months of training with the new system, both the hospital and the firefighters decided this was an opportunity to put what they've learned to the test.

Chris Klug and his team know all too well that every second counts in their line of work. Klug says after the initial assessment of the stroke patient, they notified Atrium Medical Center.

"We wanted to do a stroke alert which allows them while we're still on the road to activate their stroke team to start getting all the pieces they need to get together," said Chris Klug with the Middletown Fire Department.

Once at the hospital, a team of doctors treated the patient with help from neurologist Jacob Kitchener, thanks to the stroke telemedicine system.

"It's estimated that for every minute that someone is having a stroke, they lose 10 million neurons. So even by the minute people are losing brain function," said Jacob Kitchener.

The way it works is doctors can give their expert opinion through a video conference, even if they can't be in the room. The system gives doctors complete access to the video camera that zooms far enough to get a close-up of the patients eyes.

"We're kind of like their hands but they can see everything that's going on with the patient. They can interact with the patient and the family," said Tari Walker from the Atrium Medical Center.

This technology allows doctors to treat patients from anywhere on their laptop.

"I can get on from home or if I were in a grocery store or the bank if I ever needed to, I could pop open the laptop and look to see how things are going," said Kitchener.

It's the first time the stroke telemedicine system has been used at surrounding hospitals and Klug says he's glad to be a part of the team.

"It's a good feeling knowing that we gave that patient the best chance at a positive outcome," said Klug.

More patients will soon see the benefits of this technology. Doctor Kitchener says they're expanding to the rest of their hospital system over the next two months.

This technology became available just last week at other nearby hospitals, including Good Samaritan in Dayton.

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