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SJCH Partners With Two Regional Hospitals to Provide Life-Saving Stroke Care

Virtual Care

San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) has launched a state-of-the-art telestroke program that will save time and lives by extending immediate access to SJCH’s award-winning Primary Stroke Center to two Kern County hospitals: Delano Regional Medical Center and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

The new partnership means caregivers at these outlying facilities — Delano and Ridgecrest are home to the largest rural hospitals in Kern County — can now instantly consult in real time with physicians from SJCH’s Brain and Spine Institute.

“In all neurological health issues, time is extremely critical – the faster a patient receives proper treatment, the better the chances for recovery,” said Douglas Duffield, President/CEO at SJCH. “With the launch of SJCH’s telestroke network, our team of experts can provide rapid evaluations and treatment recommendations in a manner of minutes. In many cases, this will allow patients to remain in their home community and still receive a high level of care.”

Delano Regional Medical Center and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital have agreed to consult with specialists from SJCH’s Brain and Spine Institute via videoconferencing and image sharing technology. By establishing this type of telemedicine link, doctors can examine patients at hospitals miles away to help diagnose the ailment and recommend a plan of care.

“This community deserves the best care we can help provide,” says Bahram Ghaffari, President of Delano Regional Medical Center, located about 30 miles north of Bakersfield. “The relationship between our hospitals in bringing this telestroke program to Delano will make a real difference in the lives of many people.”

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s CEO Jim Suver agreed, adding that the telestroke agreement with SJCH is a natural fit with RRH’s goal to provide the highest quality health care to the eastern part of Kern County, about 100 miles east of Bakersfield.

“We are very happy to partner with SJCH for this telestroke program,” Suver said. “Tapping into the expertise that can help our team save lives in our community of Ridgecrest is a true win-win. At the heart of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s healthcare is the balance of two qualities: Clinical excellence and the sense of belonging. Partnering with other hospitals in Kern County with these same values will allow us to provide the highest quality care for our patients.”

Doctors at SJCH will use one-on-one audiovisual consultations 24/7 to the medical staff and patients in the emergency rooms at the partner hospitals. Patients’ MRI and CT imaging results are securely shared, and if necessary, patients can then be transferred to SJCH for a higher level of care.

In fact, a new One-Call Transfer Center has been established at SJCH that assists in paving the way for an easy and efficient patient direct admission process for physician offices, clinics, urgent care 
centers and emergency rooms.

About Telestroke
In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death. Each year, stroke occurs in more than 700,000 patients, leaving many with disabilities and unable to resume previous lifestyle or employment.

According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), a new scientific statement says a remote exam using high-quality videoconferencing equipment is as effective as a bedside stroke evaluation.

It is estimated that 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes – where a blood clot, formed in another part of the body, travels to a smaller blood vessel in the brain and becomes lodged, blocking blood flow to that area.

One form of treatment is to administer a clot-busting drug called a Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA). Physicians must quickly evaluate stroke patients to determine if they are eligible for time-sensitive treatment such tPA that can save brain function and reduce disability. Stroke and brain imaging specialists are often required to perform the evaluation. However, the United States has only an average of four neurologists per 100,000 people, and not all of them specialize in stroke, according to the ASA.

“We want patients in our entire county to have the benefit of rapid assessment by a board-certified neurologist who specializes in stroke care to make the determination as to whether or not to treat,” said Michelle Hartshorn, Director of SJCH’s Brain and Spine Institute. “Our telestroke program makes that possible.”

Telestroke is coupled with teleradiology, which allows remote review of brain images. This technology can broaden the reach of neurologists in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

In essence, a telestroke partnership program — such as the agreement with SJCH, Delano Regional Medical Center and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital — provides this valuable, life-saving capability.

About Delano Regional Medical Center
Delano Regional Medical Center (governed by Central California Foundation for Health) is a full-service community and regional teaching hospital. DRMC serves 10 rural central California towns and is committed to providing an exceptional patient experience. With a total of 156 beds, DRMC is a not-for-profit hospital with services including an Intensive Care Unit, a Sub-Acute Care Unit, a Medical Surgical Unit, a dedicated Surgical Pavilion, Bariatrics Center of Excellence and an Obstetrics/Gynecology Unit as well as five rural health clinics.

About Ridgecrest Regional Hospital 
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH) offers a variety of services for our community's health care needs provided by friendly, professional caregivers. RHH is a full service, Critical Access acute care hospital that is certified by the State Department of Health Services and the California Medical Association as well as DNV Healthcare Accredited. RRH is also the first hospital in the nation to receive the ISO 9001: 2008 certification after successfully passing the audit for the quality management system by DNV Healthcare Inc. RRH is licensed to operate by the State of California and is a nonprofit community organization governed by a Board of Directors.

About San Joaquin Community Hospital
Located in the heart of downtown Bakersfield, San Joaquin Community Hospital is a 255-bed acute care hospital serving the community of Bakersfield and Kern County. The hospital’s mission is to share God’s love with the community by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing. Core services at SJCH include the region’s only Heart Attack Receiving Center, an award-winning Primary Stroke Center, The AIS Cancer Center and Quest Imaging, an outpatient diagnostic imaging center.