How a telestroke program saved the life of a 30-year-old stroke patient

May 16, 2018

Chris Scholten was sitting on the couch with his wife Crystal when he felt something pop in the back of his head.

His blood pressure spiked, he began throwing up and talking like a child. At age 30, he was having an unusual type of stroke.

An ambulance took Mr. Scholten to Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights, Illinois, a member of Loyola Medicine’s telestroke network. Palos physicians ordered tests and virtually consulted with Michael Schneck, MD, a Loyola neurologist who specializes in stroke care.

At many hospitals, stroke specialists aren’t always available. Loyola stroke specialists are on call 24/7 to examine patients remotely and recommend treatments. At the patient’s bedside, a microphone and full-color, high-definition camera enable the Loyola specialist to see, hear and talk to the patient and the patient’s family, doctors and nurses. The specialist also can examine lab results, CT scans and other images sent over a secure internet connection.

Mr. Scholten was experiencing a stroke in the back of the brain, called the cerebellum. On Dr. Schneck’s recommendation, he was brought to Loyola University Medical Center, where he underwent brain surgery.

The telestroke program is among the patient-care initiatives of the innovative affiliation between Loyola and Palos, which focuses on coordinated and collaborative patient care. Palos patients receive greater access to Loyola’s renowned specialty care services, such as neurosciences and oncology, while having continued access to Palos’ primary care network.

Loyola is among the leaders in the Midwest in telemedicine care and one of few hospitals nationwide to provide specialized stroke care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program was created by nationally recognized experts in telemedicine—doctors with years of experience in direct bedside applications of the technology.

Loyola’s stroke center is certified by the Joint Commission as a comprehensive stroke center. The center includes a nationally recognized team of experts in every facet of stroke-related care, including neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, emergency medicine, rehabilitative services, social work, pharmacy, and specialized neuroscience nursing.

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