Two HCA Healthcare affiliate hospitals used the power and connection of telemedicine to save Ginger Duease’s life. The avid runner, sports enthusiast and Gulfport, Mississippi resident suffered a stroke at her home earlier this year.

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Garden Park Medical Center ER physician Dr. Mike Wilson, left, and Tulane Health System stroke expert Dr. Justin Salerian, right, re-connect with former patient Ginger Duease, who’s showing no ill effects from a recent stroke thank to the quick actions – and telestroke technology – at both facilities.

Duease, who had just returned from vacation with friends and was ready to resume training for her next Spartan Race – an obstacle course that includes running, mud crawling and wall climbing – was struck by a dizzy spell and the entire right side of her body became paralyzed.

Recognizing her stroke symptoms right away, Duease was able to notify a friend who immediately drove her to the Garden Park emergency department.

The ER team, led by attending physician Dr. Michael Wilson, launched into action the moment Duease arrived, assessed her symptoms and initiated its sister hospital, Tulane Medical Center’s teleConsulting network– or TEC – which provides Garden Park caregivers with 24-hour, on-call access to Tulane’s stroke and neuroscience experts for stroke consultation.

“During a stroke, we say that time is brain because up to two million brain cells can die per minute,” said Dr. Wilson. “Ginger (Duease) had classic stroke symptoms, which is why we initiated our video conferencing with the Tulane stroke specialists right away.”

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Garden Park Medical Center emergency department team pose with their telestroke robot, which instantly connects them with stroke experts at the Tulane Neuroscience Center.

Using the TEC system, the Garden Park ER team communicated via a two-way, live video, audio and image-sharing system with Tulane’s Stroke Program Medical Director Dr. Justin Salerian.

Together, Dr. Wilson and Dr. Salerian determined the best treatment option was to provide clot-busting medicine immediately, and once stabilized, transfer Duease to Tulane Medical Center for further care.

“I remember everything that happened in the Garden Park ER,” Duease said. “The doctors and nurses were talking to me and asking questions, but I couldn’t respond – I couldn’t speak. I even remember seeing Dr. Salerian on a computer screen in the ER like he was on Skype.”

 

HCA’s Garden Park Medical Center emergency department team pose with their telestroke robot, which instantly connects them with stroke experts at the Tulane Neuroscience Center.

Right after the clot-busting shot was administered, Duease could begin to feel and move the right side of her body again. It wasn’t long before an ambulance arrived to transport her to the comprehensive stroke center at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans where she would undergo a thrombectomy to remove the remainder of the stroke-causing blood clot – and meet Dr. Salerian in person.

“Ginger suffered a potentially devastating left middle cerebral artery stroke, which often results in permanent disability or death,” Dr. Salerian said of the atypical stroke patient – a fitness buff in her early 40s. “In Ginger’s case, she made it to the ER in less than an hour after her stroke started and received the clot-busting drug tPA with 30 minutes of arriving at the ER.”

When Dr. Salerian told Duease that she was being discharged home, one of her first questions was, “When can I start working out again?”

HCA’s national scale and partnerships between affiliate hospitals like Garden Park and Tulane help provide positive outcomes for patients like Duease, who survived a stroke with virtually no after effects.

Three months after her stroke, Duease is working out 5-6 times a week and training for her next race.

“It might sound silly, but I’m doing a Spartan Race in February to try and qualify for the TV show American Ninja Warrior,” she said.

Imagine that – a stroke survivor not only conquering a Spartan Race, but perhaps moving on to participate in one of the most elaborate and challenging obstacle courses of all time on American Ninja Warrior.

“Ginger is already a winner and a warrior in our eyes,” Dr. Salerian said.

Visit here for more information on Garden Park Medical Center’s partnership with Tulane Expert teleConsulting network.

Tulane Medical Center hosted its first-ever “Great Save” event, highlighting the use of telestroke technology and reuniting Ginger Duease with her caregivers from Tulane and Garden Park Medical Center.

Tulane Medical Center and Garden Park Medical Center are affiliates of HCA Healthcare.