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Members of Community Hospital’s stroke team, from left, nurses MaryAnn Green, Robert Hoskins and Jennifer Biank, use the TeleStroke mobile video robotic system to collaborate with Rush’s vascular neurologist to speak face-to-face with a patient in the emergency room as part of a detailed assessment.

Community Healthcare System has partnered with Rush University Medical Center to try to improve stroke care in the Region.

Under the partnership, Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart will utilize Rush's Telestroke Network. Using a robotic video system, vascular neurologists from Rush assess patients at the local hospitals for signs of ischemic stroke, which is caused by an obstruction to the vessel that supplies blood to the brain.

“TeleStroke allows Rush vascular neurologists to speak face-to-face with patients and their families, including neurologists and clinicians present in the emergency room,” stated Dr. Alan Kumar, chief medical officer for Community Healthcare System. “The assessment helps our emergency department teams quickly determine if the patient is an appropriate candidate for tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which, when administered in a timely manner, can save lives or reduce the long-term effects of stroke.”

The move continues a trend of Region hospitals partnering with Chicago medical facilities to enhance health care in Northwest Indiana. Other recent partnerships include Community Hospital and University of Chicago's foray into high-risk pregnancies and Franciscan Health joining forces with Rush on orthopedic care.

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Stroke is the leading cause of disability in America. Eighty-five percent of strokes are ischemic. At 43 percent, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Lake County, higher than the state and national averages of 41.7 and 36.9 percent, respectively, according to the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment

Through the telemedicine program, the Rush neurologists can review CT scans, vital signs and a patient's pupils, all while accessing the patient's electronic medical record. Moments later, the neurologist delivers a treatment plan.

“Every second counts when it comes to stroke,” stated Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center. “Our hospitals utilize evidence-based research to deliver timely stroke care so our patients receive the best treatment in the quickest, most efficient manner. The TeleStroke medicine partnership helps us continue to deliver an advanced level of care at a time when it is needed most by our community.”


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.