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New Technology Provides Quicker Access to Stroke Patients

(Horizon) October 27, 2014 - Stroke patients in New Brunswick now have quicker access to treatment thanks to Telestroke. The new technology means Emergency Rooms (ERs) without specialists on hand can connect with neurologists off-site, saving precious time.

"One of the challenges for access was linked to our geography. Telestroke enables ER patients in smaller community hospitals to connect with neurologists in another location," said Nicole Tupper, Co-Chair, Stroke Network, and Executive Director of the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital.

The main focus of Telestroke is to improve access to treatment with a drug known as tPA - tissue plasminogen activator. This drug dissolves blood clots and must be administered within the first 4.5 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms. The quicker it is administered the more effective it is.

When someone arrives at an ER experiencing signs of stroke without a specialist onsite, their CAT scan can be seen instantly by a neurologist elsewhere using Telestroke technology. The neurologist can then determine if the stroke was caused by a blood clot and authorize the use of tPA.

"Before Telestroke, patients in rural areas had to be transported to their nearest regional hospital. Time is critical when you're dealing with stroke victims and this technology allows us to assess and treat the patient remotely," said Dr. Lyle Weston, Neurologist at The Moncton Hospital.

The Telestroke Network was created in May 2013 in partnership with Horizon, Vitalité Health Network, the Department of Health, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Since then, Horizon has purchased new equipment, implemented new practices and developed a 24/7 neurology on-call system, in which all 14 neurologists in the province participate.

"Implementation of this technology will be of immeasurable value to patients. Quicker diagnosis and treatment for a stroke will greatly enhance a patient's chances for a healthier recovery. That element alone was a driving force behind this initiative and we are more than satisfied to see this project become a reality", said Richard Losier, Chief Operating Officer of the Beauséjour Zone for Vitalité Health Network.

Funding for the project included a $100,000 grant from the Canadian Stroke Network and $274,000 from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of New Brunswick, local hospital foundations and community stakeholders.

"Telestroke is a perfect example of how technology can be used to better integrate the health-care system," said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. "The Department of Health is happy to be a partner on this project that improves access to treatment and will result in improved patient outcomes."

Telestroke is currently available at The Moncton Hospital, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital and the Saint John Regional Hospital, and will be available throughout the province by the end of the year.  

Stroke symptoms

Stroke can be treated. That's why it is so important to recognize and respond to the warning signs

Five signs of stroke:

  • Weakness: Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary.
  • Trouble speaking: Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary.
  • Vision problems: Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary.
  • Headache: Sudden severe and usual headache.
  • Dizziness: Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.

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For more information contact:

Horizon Health Network
Carolyn McCormack, APR
Media Relations

Vitalité Health Network
Luc Foulem
Regional Advisor of Media Relations




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