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DOH Provides Clarification on Rural Stroke Center Designation

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At the June 11 meeting of the State’s Rural Health Council, the Department of Health (DOH) provided guidance for rural hospitals seeking stroke center designation. In 2006, to enhance access to timely stroke care in rural areas of the state, DOH began a rural telestroke initiative. Based on a model in place in Georgia, a system of “hub” hospitals was developed and connected to “spoke” hospitals through a telemedicine link. Using technology, neurologists located at hub hospitals can assess results of tests performed at rural hospitals and visualize patients to direct treatment at the remote location.

Rural “spoke” hospitals have raised concern that patients transported by emergency medical services are bypassing their facilities and are being transported to a designated stroke center. At yesterday’s meeting, DOH representatives indicated that if all other stroke center designation requirements (including treatment time requirements, staff training, and data reporting requirements) are met and the specialist coverage is provided via telemedicine, stroke center designation will be granted. DOH also pledged to work with hospitals to help them overcome obstacles to meet designation requirements where possible. Contact: Frederick Heigel

Published June 12, 2009