HONESDALE – The Wayne Memorial Hospital played host to Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) when he visited the county on Wednesday.

He made the stop as part of a state tour to meet with “all walks of life.”

Toomey said he wants to meet with constituents and find out what some of their struggles are that they're facing.

“I want to learn as much as I can so I know where to focus my energy on so I can help them at the federal level,” he said.

Toomey met with several representatives at Wayne Memorial Hospital to discuss the VA Center coming to Honesdale and Medicare reimbursement formulas.

After, he got a tour of part of the hospital. In the Emergency Room James Pettinato, RN-HP, MHSA, Director of Patient Care Services, told Toomey about the hospital's Telestroke program.

It is “a real-time video-conferencing program that basically brings an off-site doctor to a stroke patient at Wayne Memorial Hospital,” according to Lisa Champeau, Public Relations Manager.

The hospital has an agreement with Geisinger Health System board-certified neurologists to provide 24/7 neurology consults via telemedicine.

Pettinato set up a teleconference with Edgar J. Kenton, III, MD, FAAN, FAHA, Co-director of the Neurosciences Center, Director of Neurology and Stroke Program for Geisinger Health System, who explained more about the system.

“Telestroke allows us to get to a patient quicker and save brain activity,” Kenton said. “ You can essentially do an extensive exam [through the program].”

He added Wayne Memorial is one of seven hospitals in the state that has access to this program. Geisinger has been using telestroke since 2008.

Pettinato said Wayne Memorial got approval from the Department of Health last Thursday to start the program.

“This allows us to keep patients in their hospital in their community with their doctor,” Kenton stated. “We are happy to work with Wayne Memorial Hospital on this system.”

Toomey thanked Kenton for taking the time to explain it to him.

“In stroke care, 'time is brain,'” Champeau said. “With each passing minute brain cells are lost, so the quicker a patient is assessed, the quicker he or she can be treated and brain loss is hopefully stopped.

“The patient usually has a CT scan, which helps the neurologist determine if it's a 'bleed' (hemorrhagic) or a 'block' (clot).”

She added patients can even see their scans through Telestroke.

With authorization, Wayne Memorial Hospital can administer the only FDA approved clot busting drug, tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which must be given within three hours.

Champeau added the hospital is applying to become a Primary Stroke Center, which they hope to accomplish this fall.

“Learning about what issues being faced in the healthcare system is important,” Toomey said. “There are different issues and different challenges that are faced by each hospital. Federal legislation will affect each one in different ways.”

He added learning about what they are will help him make decisions that are best for rural Pennsylvania.