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New telestroke service to improve access to care

Doug Currie

CHARLOTTETOWN – A new telestroke service being piloted by Health PEI will provide enhanced and more convenient access to specialized stroke consultation services to patients in rural areas of Prince Edward Island, says Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie (pictured).

“This new service means some Islanders in rural communities won’t need to travel as far to receive stroke services, giving them better access to the care they need closer to home,” said the minister. “Our government recognizes the huge physical and emotional impact a stroke has on Island families and will continue to work to ensure patients have access to programs that address the stroke care needs of Islanders in our province.”

The new telestroke service is currently being piloted between the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Charlottetown, and Prince County Hospital in Summerside. Within the piloting phase, some stroke survivors in the East Prince region requiring specialized stroke consultations, such as rehabilitation consults or follow-ups, will no longer need to travel to the QEH for their appointment.

Rather, an appointment will be scheduled for them at PCH where, via videoconferencing, the team of stroke specialists located at QEH will be able to carry out the consultation virtually with the stroke survivor. A member of the stroke survivor’s district (local) stroke care team will also participate in the telestroke consult and will be in the room with the patient at PCH.

“A comprehensive organized stroke care program that includes telestroke services is important to ensuring we provide the most accessible, timely and effective stroke care to all stroke survivors on Prince Edward Island across all areas of our stroke care program,” says Dr. Ed Harrison, Physiatrist and Director of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and the provincial Ambulatory Stroke Rehabilitation Clinic at the QEH.

“We are excited to be integrating telestroke services within our current clinical practices and we see this new service as a way to providing enhanced collaboration among our health care providers and stroke specialists. Our staff will benefit from this new service, but more importantly our patients will benefit by being able to access on-going specialized stroke care closer to home.”

In June 2013, Health PEI received funding from the Canadian Stroke Network to assist with establishing a telestroke service for Prince Edward Island. Funds from the Canadian Stroke Network supported the purchase of dedicated equipment and infrastructure upgrades required to operate the telestroke videoconferencing service.

The new telestroke service facilitates specialized stroke rehabilitation consultations and treatment services (including physiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, orthotics, nursing, etc.) A committee is exploring opportunities to expand the telestroke service to eventually include specialized emergency stroke care neurology consultation services, as well as possible further expansion of telestroke services in other identified priority areas such as preventative and acute care consultations and treatments, enhanced point-of-care monitoring in the areas of home and community-based care, education and treatment.

For more information on Prince Edward Island’s organized stroke care program, visit www.healthpei.ca/stroke.

 

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