Telehealth program helps patients stay connected, get medical advice virtually

Time can be the difference between life and death for anyone suffering a stroke. And telehealth is proving to be a very useful tool in the race to provide quality care.

One doctor knows that firsthand. At just 38, an emergency department physician was on the job when he suffered a stroke. 

Through an Allina Health telehealth program, his doctors connected were able to connect to a stroke expert more than 50 miles away. It's a connection that potentially saved his life.

The symptoms set in on a day back in November, when Dr. Cody Wendlandt, an emergency physician at Glencoe Regional Health just begun his shift. 

"When I noticed that I was having left sided weakness and difficulty speaking I think that's the point where I said I need help. This is not right, this is abnormal," Wendlandt told FOX 9. By the time his colleagues arrived he collapsed. "I think there was some degree of divine intervention that I was in the place that I needed to be."

Using Allina Health's TeleStroke, doctors at Glencoe Regional Health connected to Dr. Ganesh Asaithambi, a vascular neurologist at United Hospital in St. Paul. It's technology that bridges the link between doctors and those with advanced training in treating strokes.

"When someone experiences a stroke, every second counts," said Asaithambi. Within minutes, he received an official diagnosis. "At least initially I had almost total paralysis of the left arm and leg. I had some facial droop, I had dizziness and I was barely able to speak."

He had time and technology on his side.

"Without the prompt treatment I could have been disabled for life," said Wendlandt. He's given clot busting medication and within hours his symptoms begin to subside. "It was good to have friends and colleagues around to help me through this situation. I owe my life to Glencoe, Allina Hospital and Allina Health.

Dr. Wendlandt spent a few days in the hospital, and today he's doing just fine. Allina Health says that it has 14 neurologists on call for TeleStroke.

Dr. Asaithambi stressed that this story is yet another reminder that a stroke can happen to anyone at any age.