Residents of the Weirton area will have greater access to WVU Medicine specialists and subspecialists through a new clinical program collaboration agreement with Weirton Medical Center (WMC) that will begin with stroke specialists from the WVU Stroke Center providing telestroke services to patients at the Northern Panhandle hospital.
“WVU has become a national leader in neurological research, so we are excited about partnering with them to bring their telestroke program to our region,” John Frankovitch, WMC president and CEO, said. “This program will greatly enhance the opportunity for local patients to minimize the long-term effects of a stroke while providing access to world-class specialty care without ever leaving their community.”
Weirton Medical Center is a 238-bed community hospital, offering primary and specialty care services to residents of Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia, as well as those in Jefferson County, Ohio, and southwestern Pennsylvania. It employs more than 1,500 staff.
In addition to providing WMC patients with rapid and convenient access to its specialists and subspecialists, the West Virginia University Health System will also work closely with WMC to recruit additional physicians who will complement WMC’s medical staff by establishing their medical practices in the Weirton area.
“As the academic medical center of the state’s land-grant university, we have a responsibility to ensure that patients in all corners of West Virginia have access to the most advanced and specialized care they need close to home,” Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the WVU Health System, said. “Through this new collaboration with Weirton Medical Center, we can help to ensure that those in the greater Weirton area will not have to travel great distances to find high quality specialty and subspecialty care.”
The WVU Stroke Center at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is the first and only hospital in the state to receive The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers. Both represent symbols of quality from their respective organizations.
After the onset of stroke symptoms, immediate treatment can decrease the long-term effects of stroke and can prevent stroke-related death.
Through telestroke, WVU Stroke Center neurologists can securely view and interact with the patient in the WMC Emergency Room and view diagnostic data over an encrypted internet connection. The WVU Stroke Center team and the WMC staff will communicate using video conferencing devices to develop a care plan for the stroke patient, share tests like computed tomography (CT) scans, and administer a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) intravenously.
Through October, the WVU Stroke Center’s average “door-to-needle” time for 2019 was 38 minutes – 17 minutes below the national average for hospitals participating in the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® quality improvement program. Nationally, participating hospitals treated 53 percent of patients in less than 45 minutes, while the Stroke Center beat 45 minutes for 81 percent of patients through October.
“In a relatively short period, we have been able to develop a robust telestroke network. Since its inception in 2015, tPA administration has increased by 173 percent statewide. It is essential to recognize that this success is only possible because of collaboration with our partners across the state and dedication to providing the best care to stroke patients when they need it most, regardless of their distance to a specialized stroke center,” Amelia Adcock, M.D., associate director of the WVU Stroke Center and director of the WVU Center for Telestroke and Teleneurology at the WVU Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, said. “We look forward to working with our colleagues at WMC.”