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SEATTLE - (Jan. 18, 2011) — Virginia Mason Medical Center and Kittitas Valley Community Hospital (KVCH) in Ellensburg have formed a telestroke collaborative arrangement to support the KVCH goal of becoming a Level 2 Stroke Center. The collaboration, which is a first for Virginia Mason, will help ensure high-quality stroke care and advanced stroke therapies are readily accessible to eligible KVCH stroke patients. Services Virginia Mason will provide under this arrangement include teleconsultation, advanced protocol development and continuing medical education.

As recognition has grown that treating strokes quickly and effectively can greatly improve outcomes for patients, health care providers have established "stroke centers" designed to ensure patients suffering a stroke are treated rapidly using the best evidence-based protocols. Virginia Mason established its own stroke center in 2004.

The system of care created by this vital partnership begins with the KVCH stroke team, which includes Kittitas County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the KVCH emergency and imaging departments. The team ensures quick identification of an ischemic stroke and rapid administration of the clot-busting drug, Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA) to eligible stroke patients. While not appropriate for all stroke patients, when initiated within 4.5 hours of symptom onset t-PA has been shown to reduce the effects and permanent disability associated with a stroke. The neurology specialists at Virginia Mason act as advisors to target stroke treatment quickly and determine if patients not eligible for intravenous t-PA would be eligible for advanced therapy, such as intra-arterial t-PA or clot retrieval. After receiving intravenous t-PA, patients can be cared for in the Critical Care Unit at KVCH and begin rehabilitative care as soon as they are medically stable.

"The TeleStroke partnership with Virginia Mason's stroke team guarantees our patients access to neurology specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week," stated Paul Nurick, chief executive officer of KVCH. "This immediate access to specialists helps us target stroke treatment quickly and efficiently, providing improved opportunity for recovery for our patients while eliminating or minimizing the need to travel for care."

The combined efforts of the Virginia Mason Stroke Center and KVCH provide a coordinated team approach to care, joining the skills and services of EMS providers, the Emergency Department, Radiology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Rehabilitation, Critical Care Unit, Telemetry and Neurosciences. A board-certified neurologist will be available at Virginia Mason to evaluate each patient and provide consultative services for the care and treatment of stroke patients whether they are admitted to KVCH or another facility.

"We see this telestroke partnership as beneficial to patients and both institutions," said Sarah Patterson, Virginia Mason executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Virtually every approach to health care reform recognizes there has been much duplication of facilities, services and technology, which has led to increased costs and waste. By partnering with KVCH, and sharing and extending our expertise, combined with the expertise of KVCH providers, we increase efficiency. Most importantly, however, we provide the opportunity for patients in the Kittitas Valley and surrounding area to have the best possible outcome following a stroke."

The collaborative arrangement with KVCH has begun with telephone consultations between Virginia Mason neurologists and KVCH physicians concerning triage and treatment of stroke patients at KVCH. The Virginia Mason Stroke Center also will begin collaborating with Kittitas Valley staff in developing stroke treatment and education.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit comprehensive regional health care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area, and Bailey-Boushay House, a skilled-nursing facility and chronic care management program for people with HIV/AIDS. The medical center is affiliated with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety. For more information, visit Facebook/VMcares or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter.

About Kittitas Valley Community Hospital
Kittitas Valley Community Hospital (KVCH) is a progressive, Critical Access Hospital in Ellensburg, Washington, that serves the medical needs of Kittitas County's residents and visitors. As a local acute care hospital, KVCH provides 24-hour emergency care and hospitalist services, and offers a full array of inpatient and outpatient care in critical care, medical-surgical services, surgical services, respiratory therapy, laboratory, imaging, rehabilitation, home health care, hospice and obstetrics. Within its system of care, KVCH also operates primary and specialty medical clinics and Cle Elum Urgent Care Center. KVCH combines expert staff with the highest quality care and state-of-the-art technology in a personalized, patient and family-centered environment. For more information visit or Facebook.

For media inquiries, contact:
Virginia Mason, (206) 341-1509
Michele Wentzel, Kittitas Valley Community Hospital (509) 933-7593

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