Saving Lillie from a dangerous stroke
"Call it intuition, but something told me to go to my mother's house after work that night. So I did," says Claire Holt. She describes what happened as she visited with her 85-year old mother, Lillie Schaeffer.
"We were sitting at the kitchen table, and I glanced away for a second. When I looked back, my mother was slumped over. Her head was hanging, her right arm was limp, and she was dazed." Having worked in a neurologist's office for 10 years, Holt knew her mother was experiencing a stroke. "I called 911 immediately. When the EMS arrived, they suggested taking my mom to Virtua Memorial, not our local hospital, because of Virtua's high-level stroke program. It was a brilliant move."
When she arrived at Virtua Memorial
, the 24/7 stroke team kicked into high gear. Mrs. Schaeffer's stroke symptoms were assessed on the spot. She also benefited from a unique new technology called teleneurology. This two-way, interactive video and voice system immediately connected Mrs. Schaeffer, her daughter, and the emergency room physician with a neurologist. Together, the neurologist and ER physician examined Mrs. Schaeffer. The neurologist then prescribed a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) - used only for strokes caused by clots or blockages. Scientific studies have shown that tPA, given within three hours of when stroke symptoms start, can improve how someone will eventually walk, talk or swallow - just a few of the functions that a stroke can gravely damage or destroy.
Holt says: "When my mother arrived in the emergency room, she couldn't speak properly or understand what people were saying. Five weeks later, she was speaking and getting back to herself. Without the high level of immediate care she received - the outcome may have been very different."
Mitchell Rubin, MD,
medical director of the Virtua Neurosciences Program of Excellence, adds: "While Schaeffer was fortunate enough to get the treatment she needed, people across the country aren't receiving time-sensitive stroke care because there simply aren't enough neurologists to staff every emergency room. At Virtua, we found a solution for this serious problem through teleneurology, and have been highly proactive with stroke care. The proof is in our JCAHO certification for stroke care, one of the highest accolades in the country. Most of all, our success is in helping people like Mrs. Schaeffer recover through the application of clinical excellence and the latest technology."
Mitchell Rubin, MD,
earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed an internship at Lankenau Hospital in Pennsylvania, a neurology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York and a teaching appointment at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is a board-certified neurologist and the chief of neurology at Virtua Memorial Hospital.