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Teleneurology Program Set to Launch at CentraCare Health – Long Prairie

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

Long Prairie, Minn. – Beginning in early October, post-stroke and TIA (transient ischemic attack) patients receiving follow-up care at CentraCare Health – Long Prairie will be able to take advantage of a new teleneurology patient navigator program. The program is made possible by a $540,000 three-year grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program.

The primary goal of the program is to improve access to care and health outcomes among patients recovering from stroke or TIA who reside in Chippewa, Pope, Swift, Todd, Wadena, and parts of Stearns counties in Central Minnesota. The launch point of the program will be Long Prairie with other locations added in over the next few months. When the program is fully up to speed, there will be nine hospitals and eight home care agencies from Alexandria, Benson, Glenwood, Long Prairie, Melrose, Montevideo, New London, Paynesville, Sauk Centre, Staples and Wadena participating.

The program will be led by Sarah Zastrow, an RN who began in July as the program’s patient navigator. Within five to seven days after a stroke patient is discharged from St. Cloud Hospital Stroke Center, Zastrow will work with the patient and his or her health care providers and family to manage the care needed. This may be done in the office face-to-face, via telephone, or via video-conferencing using telemedicine equipment.

“There are two big benefits this program will provide to patients in these rural communities. First, I will help make sure they understand their discharge instructions, medications and follow-up appointments. I will also help them find the resources to obtain their medications, equipment, transportation and anything else they need,” Zastrow explained.

Zastrow also will work with the neurologist to develop a customized recovery plan from a holistic perspective. “We need to help the patient review all aspects of their lifestyle to help prevent a second stroke or re-admission to the hospital,” she noted.

The second benefit is convenience. Patients will be able to stay in their hometowns and visit their primary care providers in local offices as they always have, but visits with specialists such as neurologists will be via the teleneurology equipment. Through the technology provided by teleneurology equipment, a CentraCare neurologist will be able to assess and monitor their patients’ heart rates, breath sounds, observe mobility in arms and legs, and check vision and hearing.

“I am excited to be working with this innovative technology,” Zastrow said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this program will greatly benefit our rural patients. We are starting with post-stroke patients but this will definitely be a model we will use for the future with other patient populations.”