Mayo debuts telestroke program in La Crosse

 Advances in medical technology continue to help save lives and yield better outcomes for patients.

One of the latest upgrades at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse is giving stroke patients precious extra minutes.

Doctors say if a stroke is discovered within four and a half hours of onset, patients can be given a special clot-busting drug to help reduce the effects of the stroke. However, after that, very specialized care is needed. That’s where the new telestroke technology is helping save lives.

“It’s like they’re here with the patient, in the room with the patient,” said Kelli Tornstrom, a registered nurse and the stroke coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse.

Tornstrom demonstrated on Tuesday how video technology can now allow patients who need comprehensive stroke care to be treated by specialized doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“The equipment is extremely easy to use. The neurologist on the other end does most of the operating. Basically, what we need to know on this end is how to turn it on,” said Tornstrom.


La Crosse and Austin, Minnesota are the first two sites Mayo has rolled out this telestroke technology in the Midwest. The plan is to eventually have it in place in all of Mayo’s clinics. That will provide for expedited care, especially in rural areas.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for us and our patients to potentially extend the treatment window. We’ll be able to have the vascular neurologist from Rochester evaluate the patient in real time and decide whether there’s any additional treatments,” said Dr. Greg Pupillo, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse.

The technology will also allow staff in Rochester to instantly access a patient’s x-rays and medical charts. Those things all add up when every minute counts in treating a stroke.

“We just want to provide some additional options for these patients. Having a stroke can be very devastating to the patient and the family, so we want to help improve the outcome of these patients,” said Tornstrom.