Thursday 25 October 2018





The theme of this year’s World Stroke Day – ‘Up Again after Stroke’, is particularly relevant for Bass Coast residents with the exciting addition of Bass Coast Health’s telehealth-based stroke program.


A stroke occurs when the blood supply (and oxygen) to part of the brain is cut off due to a blood clot or bleeding. Strokes can result in permanent damage to a person’s body, mobility and speech – they can also be fatal.


Getting treatment as soon as possible can be life-saving, and BCH’s Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) Program ensures diagnosis and clot-busting medications can be given sooner - enabling precious brain tissue to be saved from damage.


The state-wide VST program enables clinicians to collaborate across organisational boundaries to deliver the best care possible to patients with stroke. It is a virtual system which links rural and regional Victorian hospitals to a network of Melbourne-based neurologists who are on-call 24 hours a day, who to provide immediate treatment advice about patients with acute stroke symptoms.


BCH CEO Jan Child explains, “Studies show that a person’s outcome is vastly improved if they receive clot-busting medication within 4 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. The VST Program is based on a collaborative responsive from multiple health services to ensure a person receives treatment within that golden 4 hour window”.


This means that Ambulance Victoria now alerts Wonthaggi Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) staff if they have been called out to someone suspected of having a stroke within the Bass Coast area, so that the hospital can activate its Stroke Code. This allows a Radiographer to become immediately available to perform a CT scan to determine the cause of the stroke.


Once the CT has been performed, Neurologists at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health interview and assess the patient via video, study their CT scan, and advise ED medical staff on the patient’s treatment.


The program has improved the average door to needle time for patients at Wonthaggi Hospital from 85 minutes to 45 minutes – well within the target of 60 minutes.


Last month, the VST Program successfully beat over 50 other submissions to win the Safer Care Victoria Award for Excellence in Quality and Safety at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards. The award recognised the partnership between Ambulance Victoria, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and its health service partners, including Bass Coast Health, for delivering high quality stroke care.



For more information about BCH’s VST Program, call the Wonthaggi Hospital on 03 5671 3333.

Pictured (L-R): Wonthaggi Hospital Emergency medical staff assess people with stroke symptoms in collaboration with Neuroscientists from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.