Northside Hospital-Cherokee debuts robot to treat stroke patients

CANTON, Ga. — About 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke every year.

This sobering statistic from the American Stroke Association highlights the importance of providing immediate medical attention to stroke patients.

Now, Northside Hospital-Cherokee has rolled out its newest tool to give stroke patients immediate access to specialists when they need it most. M.A.C.S. (Mobile Access Consultation Services) is a wireless mobile remote-presence robot that allows physicians to interact with patients and staff in the hospital’s emergency department (ED) from any location.

M.A.C.S. is the only such robot north of Atlanta, and just the second in Georgia.

“When someone comes into the emergency department with signs of stroke, as caregivers, we must work quickly to assess and treat the patient in order to prevent severe disability or death,” said Jan Johnson, chief nursing officer at Northside Hospital-Cherokee. “Time is of the essence, so it’s important to have the necessary experts available immediately.”

Developed by InTouch Health, M.A.C.S. can connect a neurologist with a patient within moments of a request for consultation. As specialists are usually tied up in their practices and cannot immediately leave to get to the ED, M.A.C.S. can help them consult with on-site staff, visit the patient’s room, review medical records, talk directly to patients and give orders or further instructions.

“In stroke care, time lost is brain lost. New stroke treatments must be started within three hours after patients develop symptoms,” said Dr. Keith Sanders, a neurologist on staff at Northside Hospital-Cherokee. “The new robot . . . means that stroke patients there will be evaluated and treated much faster.”

Northside-Hospital Cherokee sees about 70 patients a year with stroke or related diagnoses. M.A.C.S. allows more patients to remain in Cherokee County; previously, those with more severe strokes had to be transferred to other hospitals for treatment.

“We are very excited about M.A.C.S. and other recent positive changes in our emergency department and about what they mean to the future of stroke care at Northside Hospital-Cherokee,” Johnson said.

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