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Gritman Medical Center unveils new telemedicine/telestroke service

MOSCOW, ID - Right now, a legislative council is developing a plan for a statewide time sensitive emergency care system.

It'll require specialists to assess trauma, stroke and heart attack patients within a certain amount of time.

And with a shortage of specialists in the medical field, that's been a problem for rural communities like Moscow. Well, until now.

When it comes to strokes, seconds count.

"For every minute the brain is deprived of oxygen, 2.5 million brain cells die," said Denny Lordan, Program Coordinator of Telemedicine at Providence Sacred Heart.

That's Denny Lordan, the Program Coordinator of Telemedicine at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane.

On Wednesday night he beamed in to help Gritman Medical Center unveil its latest gadget: the Telestroke robot.

It allows long-distance specialists from Providence, or anywhere really, to virtually visit, diagnose and treat patients on the spot.

"Technology like this just affords us an incredible opportunity to bring care to the patient instead of having to send the patient out to a higher level of care," said Lordan.

And that lessens the stress on patients, which helps with recovery.

"It's just invaluable to be able to stay home, stay where your friends and family are, stay where your local doctor is, stay where you know the staff who are taking care of you," said Lordan.

And even though the contraption seems a bit impersonal at first glance

"For me it didn't feel any different," said patient.

"Most of the time when we're doing a consult like this and the family's in the room, in about five minutes they totally forget that I'm on a robot," said Lordan.

The long-distance doctor can even control the device as if he or she were there.

"I have the freedom to move about and see different patients in different locations," said Lordan. "Or I can go out to the nurse's station or the physicians work station and have a conversation there."

With endless possibilities, Gritman and Providence will soon look to expand the use of the robot beyond stroke treatment.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. So the doctors at Gritman and Providence want to remind everybody, if you or someone you're with experiences symptoms of a stroke, do not take the time to drive yourself or them to the ER. Immediately call 911 for the fastest treatment.

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