New Providence Telestroke Network Enhances Stroke Care across the San Fernando Valley

May 14, 2013

TARZANA (May 9, 2013) -- Providence Tarzana Medical Center will provide a higher level of stroke care to patients in need of advanced procedures through the new Providence Telestroke Network, the first of its kind in Southern California.

This program provides the expertise of neuroscience sub-specialists at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center via robot to emergency patients at Tarzana and three other San Fernando Valley hospitals, 24 hours a day.

“This network allows for the creation of a true “spoke-and-hub” model of care that will advance the delivery of state-of-the-art stroke management to patients in our community,” said Scott Brewster, M.D., medical director of the Providence Tarzana Emergency Department and chief medical officer of Emergent Medical Associates.

Five hospitals – the Providence medical centers as well as Sherman Oaks Hospital, Encino Hospital and Mission Hospital in Panorama City – are combining resources to advance tele-medicine, raising the level of health care in the Valley. The vision is to utilize the new computerized robots to share each hospital’s signature expertise, beginning with the stroke care at Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank.

Providence Tarzana’s Emergency Department has an award-winning certified stroke center, but refers a small number of patients to Providence Saint Joseph for sub-specialties, including advanced neuro-interventional procedures. Providence Saint Joseph has the most comprehensive stroke care program in the San Fernando Valley, providing next-level care close to home.

“Stroke care is becoming a regional issue,” Dr. Brewster said. “This new network allows our hospitals to align as a region to ensure everyone has access to the most specialized care possible.

Physician sub-specialists from Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank will be part of the stroke team at “spoke” hospitals and help coordinate care and management – all courtesy of a robotic system developed by InTouch Health and iRobot. The system includes mapping technology that allows the doctor to tap an iPad to direct the robot to various patients on a single unit.

“Evidence shows far better outcomes for stroke patients who are treated as soon as possible by neurologists, but not all hospitals have interventional neurologists, neurosurgeons and other sub-specialists on staff,” said Patrice Hallak, regional director or neurosciences and orthopedics for Providence Health & Services, Southern California. “Our new 24-hour Telestroke Network brings the experts at Providence Saint to hospital bedsides across the Valley.”

Under the new partnership, Providence Saint Joseph will work with hospitals to visit virtually as needed with patients and coordinate treatment. A dedicated ambulance with a nurse aboard is available for transport patients from member hospitals as necessary for specialized treatment.

Through a secure two-way videoconferencing system, a Providence Saint Joseph neurologist can review patient records and diagnostic results, perform a full examination and consult with local clinicians to help determine the best course of treatment.

“This is the future of specialty medicine,” said neurologist Ronnie Karayan, M.D., on staff at Providence Saint Joseph. “This entire program is about vastly improving outcomes for patients and their local hospitals.”

“With medical advances and a limited number of experts, it makes sense for community hospitals to pool resources to best serve their patients,” added neurologist Margarita Oveian, M.D., also a member of the Providence Saint Joseph stroke team. “This is especially important in an area like the Valley where we see a significant number of aging members of the baby boom generation.”

The five hospitals contract with Emergency Medical Associates for Emergency Department physicians, a link that help make this partnership a reality. Jason Greenspan, M.D., is the project lead for tele-medicine for the group and associate director of emergency medicine for Encino, Sherman Oaks and Mission.

“What’s really unique about this program is that we’re looking at using the resources of various different hospitals to bring better services to the entire community,” Dr. Greenspan said, noting the consortium envisions expanding tele-medicine services to improve care across the Valley. “Stroke care is a great way to get started because it’s such a debilitating disease and time is critical. You should never have to drive past your local ER to get expert stroke care because those few minutes are crucial.”