Technology helps rural stroke victims

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- Stroke victims in rural communities will have greater access to healthcare specialists because Novant Health's, Novant Neuroscience Network.

Ray Chambers lives in a beautiful pastoral setting right outside of Galax, Virginia. There are rolling hills, streams, and in June everything is green and lush. He says just the other day, a bear passed by his house and gave birth to two cubs. Chambers' house is really far from everything, and that's the way he likes it.

But Chambers had a stroke in February, and realized getting top quality emergency medical care can be a challenge when you live so far from a major city.

Novant Health's, Novant Neuroscience Network is changing that. The Twin County Regional Hospital in Galax has a teleneurology unit. It allows stroke victims in rural areas to access an on-call neurologist any time. All it takes is a computer on wheels with a camera and video monitor to connect a neurologist with a patient hundreds of miles away.

Dr. Chere Gregory, a neurologist at Forsyth Medical Center, said bridging that gap in the quality of care is important.

"We wanted to be sure that no matter where patients live they have the opportunity to get the same care they would've gotten if they lived right around the corner from Forsyth Medical Center," said Gregory.

Chambers had his first stroke in 1996 and had to wait hours to be transported to Winston-Salem to see a neurologist. With teleneurology, he saw one in less than an hour after his second stroke in February. He credits that system and the quick response with getting him back to good health.

"I think every small town hospital should have it," said Chambers.

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