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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – “I don’t really have a memory of what happened,” said Pam McCaghren. “I was aware something was happening, I could hear everyone reacting.”

But Pam McCaghren didn’t understand the reaction. Confusion is a symptom of a stroke. “The nurses in the room with me were recognizing what was happening and called for an ambulance,” said McCaghren.

And with a quick ride to the ER. “They were ready; they were waiting,” said McCaghren.

Pam was lucky. She was at orientation for her new nursing job with Madison Hospital.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the US. “And if you look at the entire country, we have more strokes in Alabama, in the south, than anywhere else in the country,” said Dr. Amit Aurora.

Huntsville Hospital houses the region’s only stroke center. But now, patients at local community hospitals will have easier access to the center- without ever stepping through the doors.

A year ago if you went to Madison Hospital for symptoms of a stroke, “We would have to put them on a HEMSI ambulance and ship them off of Huntsville hospital,” said Mary Lynne Wright, President of Madison Hospital.

That’s because they don’t have a neurologist on staff and every minute without treatment for a stroke, “You lose 1.9 million brain cells,” said Dr. Aurora “So every minutes we delay, makes the outcome much worse.”

But now, thanks to new technology, travel will no longer be needed, with the help of a few cameras and a neurologist on the other end. “It allows us to actually see each patient,” said Dr. Aurora. And determine the diagnosis and treatment. “There are a lot of things that look like strokes, but are often not strokes.  And if we are to give it treatment for the wrong condition, it could have devastating outcomes.”

Not to mention, it keeps patients and their families close to home. “We can take patients with strokes or stroke-like symptoms and we can keep them in Madison,” said Wright.

So far, 15 patients have been treated through this new technology.

The systems are set up at eight regional community hospitals, all of which communicate with the Huntsville Hospital’s Stroke Center.

The Huntsville Hospital Foundation is hosting a benefit this Thursday to help pay for the latest technology. You can find more about that here.