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11/27/2018

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This story appeared in the West Alabama Watchman on April 25, 2018.
Read the original story here.

By Jan McDonald
BWWMH Now a Level 3 Stroke Center Thanks to Telemedicine Advancement

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital became a Level 3 Stroke Center.

It is the first hospital in the state connected to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital through a telemedicine set-up to help cut the time between when the patient arrives in the ER and the determination of treatment, said Derek Morrison, stroke program coordinator and assistant administrator of BWWMH.

The goal, Morrison said, is to have the CT scan, consultation and decision on treatment within one hour “of the time they hit the door.”

Using telemedicine the UAB doctors can work with the local ER physicians to decide the severity of the patient’s symptoms and whether to administer the blood clot buster TPA.

Doctors have a limited amount of time to decide whether to give TPA, said Dr. Eric Wallace, medical director of UAB eMedicine.

As part of the training, the ER staff hovered around “patient” Jim Roxburgh as they answered questions from Dr. Toby Gropen, UAB neurologist, who looked on from a monitor at the foot of the bed.

Dr. Gropen actually was set up in a room across the hall as he directed the examination over his laptop.

The system even has a camera attached to it that can provide close-ups of any part of the body the physician needs to examine.

The nice thing about having UAB in the loop, said Dr. Wallace, is being able to work together to determine long term care.

The telemedicine link with BWWMH is the first of nine hospitals included in a grant to set up distance medicine around the state, he continued.

Dr. Wallace said telemedicine can be set up for other consultations in such areas as critical care and outpatient services.

The system provides decision support not only between UAB and BWWMH but the “transferring site” where the patient may receive surgery, said Gilly Saaijman, the RN coordinator with VeeMed. The company coordinated all the training.

Morrison said the stroke unit was one of the first programs initiated when BWWMH became a member of the UAB Health System in October. UAB provided all the equipment and paid for the training.

Now that it is on line, BWWMH will become a part of the State-wide Stroke System. EMS personnel can transport suspected stroke patients to Demopolis instead of taking them to a facility an hour away.

Another grant is in the works which would provide a second telemedicine unit on the hospital’s third floor, he said.

That same grant also would create a “telemedicine hub” at the hospital. Physicians at UAB can “see” their patients in Demopolis, saving them both time and money. Most of the lab work and other tests can be done locally as well, Morrison added.

“It’s been a really exciting project.”

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