search buttonmobile navigation expand button

James’ Story – Using Telemedicine to Diagnose and Treat Stroke

Published on Monday, October 31, 2016
photo of James Wolf

James Wolf was an active and independent 86 year old. He drove his own car, went grocery shopping, paid the bills, helped his wife with the household chores, and was active in his local church.

On March 8, he had a bit of a cold with a nagging cough and decided to lay down for a nap around 11 a.m. When his wife went to check on him that afternoon, he was found unable to move or talk.

He was transferred to McLaren Northern Michigan Emergency Department, where he underwent a CT scan and exam that determined he had suffered a stroke and small heart attack.

When the Emergency Department staff realized he suffered from a stroke, an innovative service was implemented to further diagnose James. As part of the McLaren Stroke Network, McLaren Northern Michigan utilizes TeleStroke technology to facilitate the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunication. This telemedicine system allowed interventional neurologist Aniel Majjhoo, MD, to be present at James’ bedside in Petoskey while Dr. Majjhoo was physically located in Flint.  Through this sophisticated TeleStroke technology, Dr. Majjhoo was able to review James’ CT scans as well as conduct an exam of James and assess his symptoms. He determined that a blood clot in the brain was causing the stroke and discussed treatment plans with the onsite physician and James’ family through the telemedicine system. It was determined that James’ best option was to be emergency air lifted to McLaren Flint to receive an emergency thrombectomy, or blood clot removal.

Teresa Sawchuk and Sue Krepps, James' daughters, drove from Petoskey to McLaren Flint to be with him. Dr. Majjhoo met with James’ family in the ICU waiting room as soon as they arrived at the hospital.

“Dr. Majjhoo was great,” Teresa said. “He told us that the procedure was successful and even took out his phone and showed us pictures of my dad’s blood clot in the brain and another of the brain with the clot removed and full blood flow. He even escorted us to our dad’s ICU room.”

As another support service, the family was set up in a room at McLaren Flint’s Hospitality House, which provides convenient and comfortable lodging for families of patients who are undergoing service at McLaren Flint.

James was at McLaren Flint for one week after his thrombectomy. After he was discharged from Flint he was transferred to the McLaren Northern Michigan Acute Rehabilitation Center. During his 15 days in Acute Rehabilitation, James regained all of his movement, and his mental capacity is just as sharp as it was prior to the stroke.

James is back at his home in Petoskey. His son, William and daughters, Teresa and Sue, stay at the house and are helping with his recovery. For five weeks following James’ return home, McLaren Northern Michigan VitalCare home health provided physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing care. Just two months after James’ stroke, he is walking on an indoor track several times a week, helping more with chores and errands, and attending church service again. 

him. Dr. Majjhoo met with James’ family in the ICU waiting room as soon as they arrived at the hospital.

“Dr. Majjhoo was great,” Teresa said. “He told us that the procedure was successful and even took out his phone and showed us pictures of my dad’s blood clot in the brain and another of the brain with the clot removed and full blood flow. He even escorted us to our dad’s ICU room.”

As another support service, the family was set up in a room at McLaren Flint’s Hospitality House, which provides convenient and comfortable lodging for families of patients who are undergoing service at McLaren Flint.

James was at McLaren Flint for one week after his thrombectomy. After he was discharged from Flint he was transferred to the McLaren Northern Michigan Acute Rehabilitation Center. During his 15 days in Acute Rehabilitation, James regained all of his movement, and his mental capacity is just as sharp as it was prior to the stroke.

James is back at his home in Petoskey. His son, William and daughters, Teresa and Sue, stay at the house and are helping with his recovery. For five weeks following James’ return home, McLaren Northern Michigan VitalCare home health provided physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing care. Just two months after James’ stroke, he is walking on an indoor track several times a week, helping more with chores and errands, and attending church service again.

“It is difficult when a loved one is going through a health emergency. We feel so grateful for every person that we interacted with. From the emergency department, surgeon, countless doctors and nurses, and all the hospital staff,” stated Teresa. “Each person was compassionate, helpful, and provided comfort during this scary ordeal.”

For information on the McLaren Stroke Network, contact mclaren.org/stroke.