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Sheridan VA Starts New Telestroke Service For Urgent Care Patients

Main entrance to the Sheridan VA Health System Campus
Catherine Wheeler
Wyoming Public Radio

The Sheridan VA Health System is adding more to its telehealth services for veterans.

The new telestroke services help VA providers when a veteran comes into the Sheridan VA urgent care with stroke-like symptoms. If they do, staff can connect with a neurologist to determine if the patient needs medication or needs to be transferred to a higher level of care.

"New capabilities that we have via that program would be the possibility of starting medications for a patient that can mitigate the impact of stroke while transitioning that veteran to a more appropriate higher level of care, for instance, at the Wyoming Medical Center," said Sheridan VA Chief of Staff Eric Crawford.

He said in the past, the VA would have to transfer the patient to Sheridan Memorial Hospital. Then if they were having a stroke, they would have to then be transferred again to a larger hospital. But this cuts down on logistics and gets patients care faster.

VA Family Nurse Practitioner Ashley Ferguson said time is critical in treating a stroke.

"I absolutely think it will bridge gaps in patients that come in,” she said. “Since I've been in the urgent care, there have been at least five times that I could have benefited from using this program to help our veterans to establish whether or not they were having an acute stroke. Fortunately, in those circumstances, they were not."

The program is now live at the Sheridan VA campus. Additionally, Crawford said the VA is working on more telehealth programs to expand the services they can offer veterans, such as in dermatology and oncology services.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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