Medical Marvels: Telemedicine providing high-tech help for stroke patients

Byby John Antalek WABC logo
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
High-tech help for stroke patients
In this edition of Medical Marvels, doctors at New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital are using telemedicine to evaluate and diagnose stroke patients.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News is taking you inside Manhattan's New York-Presbyterian Hospital for a look at some extraordinary stories that we call Medical Marvels. It's a digital series exclusive to 7online.

Kelly Boyle is an emergency room nurse. She was just 38 years old when she suffered a stroke. Kelly was working in the ER when the symptoms began.

"It was very, very difficult to hold the pen," she said. "I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing at all. I had this overwhelming feeling of being unsafe when it came to taking care of my patients."

Despite knowing the warning signs of a stroke, Kelly asked to go home. Fortunately, a supervisor convinced her to be examined.

"I remember laying in the hospital stretcher, crying, and just saying in my head, I don't want to know what I know," said Kelly. "By the time the ER doctor came in, I couldn't talk at all. They decided they were going to use a tPA, which is a strong clot busting medication that they use for stroke patients."

More than 750,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Strokes kill nearly 130,000 Americans each year. About 60% of stroke deaths occur in females. May is National Stroke Awareness Month.

Kelly spent two days in intensive care after her stroke. She suffered no lasting effects.

"You need to come in quickly enough before irreversible damage is done. She was within a three-hour window," said Dr. Ji Chong, Director of the Stroke Center at New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.

She often uses telemedicine to examine potential stroke patients. Dr. Chong can evaluate and diagnose a patient during off-hours using the high-tech system.

"It's fast. We literally just turn on our computer, log on, and we can evaluate the patient," said Dr. Chong. "We have a telemedicine system down in the emergency room. It's always available. You put the console in front of the patient. It's a two-way video system where we can see the patient, they can see us. We check the language, the eye movement, their pupils, their face, whether there's droopiness of the face, if there's any slurred speech we can hear that."

This can be a way for a lot of hospitals that don't have access to a stroke specialist. Have someone immediately available, just by opening up the computer.

Kelly's stroke not only changed the way she looks at life. It helped change the way she deals with patients.

"You know how scary it is," she said. "I can say I know what you're going through. I can honestly tell you I know what you're going through. I've been there."

Information from the CDC about stroke signs and symptoms:

Link to Stroke Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital:

Profile of Dr. Ji Chong: