When a stroke occurs, even a few lost minutes can make a significant difference in preserving or losing brain function. It’s critical to take fast action and begin the delivery of clinical care as soon as possible.

Now Memorial Hospital of Union County and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are combining their stroke expertise through the Stroke Collaborative, with the use of a new, one-of-a-kind telemedicine robot to deliver advanced stroke care faster than ever before.

Anytime a patient is suspected of suffering a stroke, a “stroke alert” will be activated at both Ohio State and Memorial, to mobilize a team of stroke experts who are united through an advanced telemedicine robot, RP-VITA™. This leading-edge technology is the first FDA-cleared telemedicine robot that combines state-of-the-art telecommunications and AutoDrive technology.

“Memorial Hospital is proud to work with Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center to enhance patient care and safety with the new RP-VITA,” remarks Chip Hubbs, President/CEO at Memorial. “This new device will enhance future care opportunities as we strive to provide our community the very best in patient care.”

The RP-VITA’s high definition video equipment allows stroke care specialists at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center to virtually be at the patient’s bedside from the moment they come in the door at Memorial Hospital, asking the patient questions and working alongside Memorial’s stroke team in starting tPA, a lifesaving blood clot busting treatment, and following established stroke care protocols.

“This telemedicine technology allows us to provide real-time stroke expertise and is a wonderful compliment to the quality care delivered at Memorial,” says Dr. Michel Torbey, MD, Medical Director of the Neurovascular Stroke Center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Now our two teams are joined together through technology and commitment to high quality service, strengthening the way stroke care is delivered, saving lives, and improving patient outcomes in central Ohio.”

The RP-VITA is the first telemedicine platform to cause virtually no disruption to the existing procedures of hospital staff. With remote control access through GPS technology, it allows physicians to be present in the clinical environment from nearly any location in the world. Physicians can use an iPad™ interface to send the robot to the patient’s bedside, and it automatically navigates throughout a busy hospital environment, avoiding people and other obstacles along the way.

“I am excited about the role RP-VITA will play in our delivery of healthcare,” shares Dr. Gary Katz, emergency medicine physician at Memorial. “This new device is combining the resources of our hospitals to bring strengthened services to the entire community.”

Both organizations are excited about expanding the critical, lifesaving care available locally. While some patients may still require transport for advanced critical care, many will be able to remain close to home for their treatment and recovery. Not only does this offer familiarity to the patient, it also allows Memorial Hospital to work closely with the patient’s primary care physician and help coordinate the rehabilitation process that follows treatment.

As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was the first academic medical center in Ohio to go live with TeleStroke and the first health system in the state to extend their network beyond affiliate hospitals. Ohio State serves as the hub of the TeleStroke network and provides rapid access to board certified vascular neurologists who can provide real-time consultation to physicians at participating local hospitals using video equipment, CT scans, and web-based software.

Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center has been awarded the advanced certification for designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Only two other Ohio hospitals have achieved this elite status.

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