Allina Health TeleStroke program helps save Glencoe ER doctor’s life

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Dr. Cody Wendlandt has treated numerous stroke patients as an emergency room doctor, but during one of his shifts last November, he became the patient himself.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the onset of a stroke can be recognized by a number of symptoms, including sudden numbness in areas of the body and difficulty speaking or understanding others’ speech.

“When I noticed issues with my left side and had trouble speaking, that’s when I realized I needed help,” Wendlandt said.

Luckily for Wendlandt, Glencoe Regional Health has a valuable resource. The Allina Health TeleStroke program puts small, rural hospitals in touch with a specialist immediately during emergencies.

In this case, the program connected Glencoe staff members with Dr. Ganesh Asaithambi, vascular neurologist at Allina Health’s United Hospital. Asaithambi ordered scans, made a diagnosis and immediately got Wendlandt on a clot-busting drug for people who have had a stroke.

“When someone experiences a stroke, every second counts,” Asaithambi said.   

Today, Wendlandt is fully recovered and back at work full-time.

“Once you have had the experience of being on the other side, you can connect in a different way to patients,” Wendlandt said.

The Allina Health TeleStroke program started in 2014. It connects neurologists to 27 regional hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Last year, care facilities used TeleStroke more than 4,200 times.