Baptist Health using TeleStroke program to bring specialized care to rural hospitals

Baptist Health Lexington serves as a hub of specialists for smaller hospitals in Corbin and...
Baptist Health Lexington serves as a hub of specialists for smaller hospitals in Corbin and Richmond.(WKYT)
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 9:52 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the importance of telehealth services in patient care, allowing patients to get a diagnosis and treatment from the comfort of their homes.

Now, it’s being used to help doctors in rural hospitals give specialized care remotely.

“The impact of this program is huge in terms of taking care of these patients at the local level,” System Medical Director for TeleStroke Dr. Murali Kolikonda said.

The TeleStroke program at Baptist Health came online about a year ago, and it’s expanding.

Baptist Health Lexington has a comprehensive stroke center that’s serving as a hub for smaller facilities in Corbin and Richmond.

Specialists are available by video call 24/7 any time a patient experiencing stroke symptoms walks through any of the hospitals’ doors.

“They give a stroke alert and we are within minutes on the video call, on camera looking at the patient, evaluating the patient,” Dr. Kolikonda said. “We are right away making decisions and looking at scans and giving the clot-busting medication.”

Because, it’s been proven with a stroke, every second counts.

According to Baptist Health Corbin President Anthony Powers, with three months of the service they’re already seeing the impact with an increase in better outcomes and a decrease in the need for transporting patients by ambulance to Lexington.

“At least 50 to 70 percent of these patients, they don’t have to come to the comprehensive stroke center,” Dr. Kolikonda said. “These patients can get their stroke care at their respective sites.”

Powers said his rural hospital would need three full time neurologists to provide the same level of care the TeleStroke program now offers.

Hospitals are taking advantage of the growing telehealth field to bring specialized care from urban hospitals to rural ones.

Baptist Health Louisville is another hub within the program for the rural branch in La Grange. And, the TeleStroke program is only expected to expand.

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