Neurologist Remotely Saves Southside Stroke Patient

Thomas Christiansen, 50, from Sayville, benefits from Northwell Health's telestroke program.

In the middle of the night, Thomas Christiansen’s wife thought he was having a heart attack and called 911. The 50-year-old Sayville man was rushed to Southside Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) with numbness in his right hand and foot. The ED staff determined that Mr. Christiansen did not have a heart attack, but likely suffered a stroke as he couldn’t move his right-side extremities. 

The ED staff triaged Mr. Christiansen and placed him in front of a video monitor, so that a telestroke consultation could be performed immediately with one of Northwell Health’s vascular stroke neurologists at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH), located 30 miles away in Manhasset.

In this case, Anand Patel, MBBS, performed a remote neurological exam and confirmed that Mr. Christiansen was in the grips of a stroke. Dr. Patel advised the SSH ED staff to administer tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), the clot-busting drug that if delivered within the first few hours of symptoms can reverse – or mitigate – the crippling effects of stroke.  It made all the difference.

Although Mr. Christiansen soon began to show other signs of stroke, including a drooping of one side of his face and slurred speech, which would require clot retrieval and additional stroke treatment at NSUH, the timely administering of tPA proved effective. While en route to the Manhasset-based hospital via ambulance, Mr. Christiansen was able to move his extremities again and became fully-functioning. After a few days of observation, he was released from NSUH and able to resume his life without any neurological deficits.

“Patients can receive treatment from a stroke-certified neurologist even if they are miles away – making real-time, interactive communication possible between patients and stroke specialists in remote locations,” said Jeffrey M. Katz, MD, NSUH’s director, Comprehensive Stroke Center. “Northwell Health developed the telestroke remote monitoring program for cases like Mr. Christiansen’s which allows neurologists to examine patients when a stroke-certified neurologist is not available to ED patients.”

The telestroke program, which is deployed at six of Northwell’s 21 hospitals including Glen Cove Hospital, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, North Shore University Hospital, Southside Hospital, and Staten Island University Hospital (North and South campuses), is scheduled to be rolled out to the rest of its hospitals over the next couple of years. “The telestroke program helped save Mr. Christiansen – and countless other patients who have been seen by our telestroke neurologists,” Dr. Katz added.

“I am thankful for the miracles of medicine,” said Mr. Christiansen, who will return to his job as a Verizon technician later this month. “Dr. Katz, Dr. Patel and the rest of the stroke team, including the nurses, were very personable and attentive. I am so grateful.”

For more information about Northwell Health’s stroke programs, click here.

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About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and about 3,900 physicians, including more than 2,800 members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit

Michelle Pipia-Stiles
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