Unity Health, in partnership with UAMS, is one of several hospitals throughout the state that is part of the Arkansas SAVES system. SAVES stands for Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support.
The telemedicine program is saving lives in Arkansas, one of those here at Unity Health.
After visiting with Christine Folkner, you would never know that she suffered a potentially life-altering stroke just a few months ago. Her speech, movement and vision is just as it was before she experienced and ischemic stroke on June 12.
It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when Christine laid down to rest around 1:30.
“I felt like someone was jumping on me,” she said. “Then, the third time, I felt a big pounce and woke up to see my dog Joey. He paced up and down my arm and would not leave me. I could barely talk and asked my husband to get a wash rag. Then, I told him I couldn’t move and that I thought I might be having a stroke.”
Christine’s husband L.D. immediately called the ambulance service that rushed her to the Emergency Department at Unity Health. By 2:30 p.m., she was being diagnosed in the trauma room at Unity Health. The stroke was confirmed, and the Emergency Department staff asked if they could initiate the AR Saves program to help save her life. (Saves stands for Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support.)
Through, AR Saves, the Emergency Department nurses connected to Neurologist Margaret Tremwell MD, in Fort Smith via video conferencing. The nurses were able to demonstrate Christine’s classic stroke symptoms to the neurologist by moving the video camera.
Upon seeing Christine, Dr. Tremwell recommended the t-PA has the potential reversing the effects of a stroke.
“I thought, ‘if I don’t get the medicine, I stand the chance of living and being crippled the rest of my life,” Christine says. ‘If I do get the medicine and it works, I stand the chance of being OK. ‘Then, my husband and I decided that I should get the medicine.”
Within minutes of receiving t-PA, her ability to mover her hand, smile, talk and see with her peripheral vision gradually returned. By the time Christine left the hospital, a mere four days after her stroke, full function had returned to the left side of her body.
Arkansas ranks third in the nation for the number of stroke-related deaths, which is why the University of Arkansas for medical Sciences developed AR Saves.
This innovative telemedicine program allows stroke victims throughout the state to be properly diagnosed and treated by an off-site neurologist with the help of emergency department physicians and staff.
“Seeing the doctor on the monitor was just like having her in the room with us, “L.D. says. “The whole process was just amazing”
Thanks to the quick thinking of her husband, the Unity Health Emergency Department nurses and the AR Saves program, Christine experienced a miraculous recovery.
Visit the UAMS AR Save Web site her: http://www.uams.edu/saves/default.asp