Skip to Content

Medical center introduces telemedicine

By Brenda L. Palmer

Jen Vance, RN, Stroke coordinator

At State College’s Mount Nittany Medical Center, two new telemedicine programs allow emergency department (ED) physicians to consult with outside specialists in burn and stroke cases.

Jenna Evans, emergency department RN, explained the Tele-burn program. Images of the burns are sent electronically to Lehigh Valley Hospital’s Burn Center. After being viewed by specialists there, a telephone consult with a specialist from Lehigh gives Mount Nittany Medical Center (MNMC) ED physicians a prompt response.

Evans said a young man came into the ED on a weekend with burns on both of his palms. The ED physician used Tele-burn to consult with Lehigh Hospital specialists, and the patient was allowed to go home for the weekend. On Monday he went to the Lehigh Hospital Burn Center where his progress was monitored.

“He is recovering well,” she added.

Without the Tele-burn system, the ED physician had the choice of either going without the initial opinion of a specialist, or having the patient transferred to the burn center in Allentown, 162 miles away. Having the third option of consulting a specialist from another hospital is more practical and timely.

Jen Vance, RN, Stroke Coordinator at Mount Nittany, works with Tele-stroke in the ED. The Tele-stroke program links MNMC with the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center through a mobile machine that combines diagnostics with communication.

Vance explains that, “There is a nationwide shortage of neurologists, and time is really critical with stoke patients. If we can administer tPA [tissue plasminogen activator, a clot-busting drug] within three hours of the appearance of symptoms, the damage can be stopped or even reversed.”

Vance said that the day before this interview, a local resident was talking with his grandfather when the grandson noticed his grandfather’s face sagging on one side and his speech becoming slurred.

The grandfather was quickly admitted to the MNMC ED. A consultation was ordered with a neurologist at Hershey. Unlike the Tele-burn system, Tele-stroke allows the physicians at the two hospitals to look at the same computer screen at the same time while consulting.

Vance said, “Their doctor and ours collaborated really well.”

The grandfather was administered TPA within 3 hours.

Vance smiled proudly as she said, “His speech improved while he was still in the ED.”

There are not many conventional treatments for strokes. Besides the TPA, interventional radiology can sometimes be effective in mitigating damage if performed within eight hours of the stroke.

With Tele-stroke, the technology is available for fast, efficient consultations with specialists. Vance noted that getting to the hospital immediately upon having any stroke symptom is the most important factor in successful treatment.

Tele-stroke and Tele-burn utilize current communication technologies to allow a relatively small community hospital to provide services usually only offered by larger hospitals.

For more information about Telemedicine, access the American Telemedicine Association at:

Dr. Radut | feed_item