Telehealth to close stroke divide

Stroke Foundation has today welcomed the Western Australian Government’s announcement of the expanded Statewide Telestroke Service, saying it would close the regional metropolitan divide saving lives.

Acting Health Minister Rita Saffioti MLA made the announcement during National Stroke Week.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said telehealth was being relied on more than ever in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Statewide Telestroke Service demonstrated the technology’s value extends well beyond the current pandemic.

“Stroke remains one of this country’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability, yet it can be treated,” Ms McGowan said.

“This service is much needed. It will have an enormous impact by removing geographical barriers to emergency stroke treatment.

“When a stroke strikes, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but FAST treatment can stop this damage.”

Regional Australians are 19 percent more likely to experience stroke than people in our cities. Regional Australians are also more likely to die or be left with a serious disability as a result of stroke because of limited access to best-practice treatment and care — most stroke specialists are located in metropolitan areas.

The extended service will see consultant stroke physicians available 24/7 and enable clinicians in rural and outer metropolitan areas to seek expert assistance on quick diagnosis and appropriate treatment for their patients. This rapid, specialist advice will be delivered using contemporary technology and will be critical in saving lives and reducing the potential for disability.

Stroke Foundation Western Australian State Manager Jonine Collins said Western Australians will have access to the best in stroke treatment through the Telestroke Service, but patients must first reach a hospital in time for treatment.

“The first step in ensuring better outcomes from stroke is getting to hospital quickly, and that means someone recognising the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs and calling triple zero (000) straight away,” she said.

“To maximise the benefits of the Statewide Telestroke Service, we must expand F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) Community Education into our state’s regions.”

Stroke Foundation is currently partnering with the WA Government to deliver F.A.S.T. Community Education in some of our state’s most vulnerable communities.

This National Stroke Week, Stroke Foundation is encouraging Australians to share the F.A.S.T message with others safely – through conversations, social media, by getting creative and holding a virtual event or even by printing a F.A.S.T. poster from our website and displaying it in the front window of your home.

More on National Stroke Week here.

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