GraniteOne Health launches ‘tele-stroke’ program at Huggins Hospital

MANCHESTER — GraniteOne Health has announced that starting this month, it will be providing “tele-stroke” services for patients at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro and Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough.

GraniteOne Health is a non-profit, New Hampshire-based health-care system consisting of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, and Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough.

Using state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, the new “tele-health” service will provide doctors at those hospitals with rapid, remote consults with neurologists for patients who have had suspected strokes — an area of medicine in which quick action can save lives and prevent disabilities.

“This service will improve access to stroke specialists in our community,” said Huggins Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer John Boornazian, M.D. “Adding a consultation with a neurologist — even through a computer screen — creates a more advanced and timely system of care.”

In a suspected stroke, time lost is brain lost, and being able to consult with neurologists helps patients get specialized, time-sensitive stroke treatments faster, which has been shown to limit potential stroke-related damage to the brain.

The goal of this and other tele-health programs is to help fill the care gap in rural communities by supporting hospital staff through audio and video technology. The services are not intended to replace hands-on care, but instead provide an additional communication tool for medical staff via real-time technology.

“When people have access to high-quality services in their own community, they’re getting more value from their health care. They get medical attention more quickly and have a better overall experience,” says GraniteOne Health CEO Joseph Pepe, M.D. “This is exactly what we set out to do in creating GraniteOne Health.”

Huggins and Monadnock will be linking to the same neurologists that GraniteOne Health partner Catholic Medical Center uses for its telestroke program.

Catholic Medical Center holds The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. The hospital is also recognized by the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines — Stroke Gold Plus with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite.

“Technology is changing the way health care is delivered,” says Michael Lindberg, M.D., chief medical officer at Monadnock Community Hospital. “While in-person, one-on-one consultations with clinicians will always be the standard for our patients, tele-medicine expands the continuum of care to folks in rural areas who may have limited access to leading specialists.”

GraniteOne Health initiated the tele-health program, which has the potential to be applied to many other medical specialties in the future.

Currently, Catholic Medical Center also uses or offers tele-medicine for neurology, psychiatry, hospitalists, neurospine, and virtual primary care visits. CMC also started a program last year to make tele-stroke services available on ambulances in several New Hampshire communities, including Peterborough Fire & Rescue.

Tele-health is one of many initiatives between the GraniteOne Health partners. Catholic Medical Center, Huggins Hospital and Monadnock Community Hospital are working together to improve access to high-quality care and a seamless patient experience for Granite Staters.