Stroke Treatment: Time Matters

Divine Savior Healthcare Emergency Department Director, David Spannagel showcases new TeleStroke services available to patients.

The emergency department at Divine Savior Healthcare has been setting gold standards in response times and treating patients for strokes, heart attacks, and other life threatening conditions. Whether making a 9-1-1 call or coming directly to the emergency room, patients can rely on Divine Savior’s ER and EMS crews to respond to their conditions and receive world-class care.

Divine Savior has made continued investments to insure the stroke response and treatment times for our patients are the best possible and their team is excited about the opportunity to offer TeleStroke, a.k.a bedside neurology consultation, in their emergency rooms.

When a patient arrives with stroke symptoms a physician and/or nurse in the emergency room will assist the patient and begin to use TeleStroke services. This videoconferencing and image sharing technology allows patients to be examined by a neurological physician from miles away and allow emergency rooms, like Divine Savior, to start immediate treatments if necessary or plan for the next appropriate step.

 “Having TeleStroke allows Divine Savior to make more rapid judgements about the use of tPA in patients with stroke symptoms,” shares Spannagel.

TPA stands for Tissue Plasminogen Activator and is a medication used to help dissolve blood clots in the brain. Based on research, if given to patients within the first 3 hours of a stroke, tPA could possibly help reverse disability of a stroke.  

 “We are able to treat patients at a maximum of a half hour from the time they arrive in the ER to connecting with a neurologist, usually sooner if neurologists are not involved in other cases,” states Spannagel.

Spannagel has been quoted recently about the impressive response times the DSH emergency team is known for when responding to heart attacks, stating “time is heart”. He says the same about strokes, and that “time is brain”.

“Additionally, this TeleStroke gives our team more confidence and resources to manage care for patients at Divine Savior and keep them in our care rather than transferring them to Madison. When considering all things, time is brain,” says Spannagel.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when there is interruption of blood flow to the brain. The brain cells are not getting enough oxygen-rich blood and those brain cells die. The American Stroke Association shares, “87 percent of strokes are classified as ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to a part of the brain.”

There are other forms of strokes, such as a hemorrhagic stroke, a cryptogenic stroke, and a TIA transient ischemic attack. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a weakened blood vessel or cerebral aneurism ruptures and that blood spills into the brain. A cryptogenic stroke is from an unknown cause, and a TIA is also called a “mini stroke” or “warning stroke”. This stroke is similar to an ischemic stroke in blockage of blood flow, but the blockage is temporary and symptoms last less than five minutes. Although symptoms are temporary, it is still important to seek medical help right away.

Timing is everything. The critical moments, from the time a patient starts experiencing stroke symptoms to the time they receive treatment can save a life. The American Stroke Association references the acronym F.A.S.T. and encourages everyone to remember this to help save your own life and others.


F = Face Drooping

A= Arm Weakness

S= Speech Difficulty

T= Time to Call 911


It’s important to make note of what a stroke is and what it may look like as majority of strokes are preventable. According to the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of strokes are preventable and the most important controllable risk factor associated to having a stroke is from high blood pressure.  The American Stroke Association shares, one in three American adults have high blood pressure, and most people who have a first stroke have high blood pressure.

Other stroke risk factors include:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • High sodium intake
  • Family history in a first-degree relative


If you’re interested in finding out what your blood pressure is, you can attend anyone of Divine Savior Healthcare’s FREE Blood Pressure Screenings throughout the area.

Times and Locations include:


Date: Every Wednesday

Time: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Divine Savior Healthcare, Clinic Atrium

2817 New Pinery Road

Portage, Wisconsin 53901



Date: 2nd Friday of the month

Time: 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Divine Savior Healthcare – Crossroads Clinic

N4390 Crossroads Clinic Rd

Oxford, Wisconisn 53952



Date: 4th Friday of the month

Time: 1:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Location: Divine Savior Healthcare – Pardeeville Clinic

102 Gillette Street

Pardeeville, Wisconsin 53954


No appointment necessary. Call 608 745-6289 for more information.

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