When it comes to the assessment and treatment of stroke patients, “time is brain”. The faster a patient receives proper treatment for stroke, the better the chances for recovery.

Dr. Gilbert Teague, chief of primary and specialty medicine at VA Black Hills Health Care System in Fort Meade, SD, knew that implementing the VA National TeleStroke Program would improve care to the many Veterans in his facility. What he couldn’t have known was that the program would save his own life.

Teague, an Army veteran, suffered a stroke at his home on January 24th. Teague’s wife called an ambulance, which transported him to the Fort Meade VA Medical Center where he works.

Upon his arrival at the facility, contact was made with the VA TeleStroke physician on duty, based in New Haven, Connecticut, who ordered administration of the “clot-busting” medication Alteplase.

While it is a well-known fact that stroke patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible, smaller medical centers often times lack the local expertise to make rapid decisions for treatment. That’s where TeleStroke offers a huge advantage; the program enables physicians at larger medical facilities to provide care to patients at smaller facilities in a timely manner.

There are two types of strokes: ischemic strokes, caused by blood clots, and hemorrhagic strokes caused by bleeding into the brain. Treatment cannot be administered until the type of stroke has been determined through brain imaging.

Teague, who has fully recovered from his stroke,  said “Even though I hope no one is ever in need of TeleStroke services again, I will always be glad we implemented TeleStroke in VA Black Hills.

Teague has returned to work at Fort Meade VAMC and continues to provide care to veterans.