Six Degrees of Separation

Two female hospital workers look at a monitor in a patient room

How our scale, capabilities and expertise saved a stroke victim’s life

We’ve all heard of the “six degrees of separation” theory: Any one person can be connected to any other through a chain of just a few acquaintances. At HCA Healthcare, six degrees is more than a theory. It’s a reality connecting the scale, capabilities and expertise across our enterprise to raise the bar in delivering the best patient care in all of our facilities.

Just ask Ginger Duease. Ginger survived a life-threatening stroke thanks to the combined skill and effort of HCA Healthcare colleagues. Working across two hospitals, the Mid-America division office and corporate offices, teams raced the clock to save her. Using telemedicine technology that allowed for seamless collaboration, they quickly treated and transported Ginger, who was paralyzed on the entire right side of her body when she arrived at Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport, Miss.

Time is essential in stroke cases. GPMC’s Dr. Michael Wilson and his team assessed Ginger’s condition and quickly connected with Dr. Justin Salerian—who was 80 miles away at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, La.—using the teleconsulting network, or TEC. TEC gives physicians at Garden Park and several other hospitals 24-hour, on-call access to Tulane’s stroke and neuroscience network.

According to Dr. Salerian, Ginger suffered a left middle cerebral artery stroke, which can cause permanent disability or death. Ginger’s care team communicated via two-way live video, audio and image-sharing technology to assess her condition. Both doctors agreed that Dr. Wilson would administer a shot of the clot-busting drug tPA; it immediately began restoring movement to her right side. Soon after, Ginger was transferred to Tulane for continued care.

Thanks to her rapid treatment and the ability to share expertise across facilities, Ginger, an avid runner, is healthy and training for upcoming races. HCA Healthcare’s connectivity and teamwork saved Ginger’s life.

Below, are some of the colleague connections that made it possible.

  • Michael Wilson, MD
    Garden Park Medical Center
    Gulfport, Miss.
    Immediately after assessing Ginger’s condition, Dr. Wilson connected with stroke care experts at Tulane using the teleConsulting network (TEC), treating Ginger in 20 minutes.
  • Justin Salerian, MD
    Tulane Medical Center

    New Orleans, La.
    Provided expert guidance via telestroke technology to Dr. Wilson and his team, who were 80 miles away at GPMC.
  • Shannon Kuczynski
    Overland Park, Kan.
    While the team at GPMC cared for Ginger, they simultaneously engaged Shannon’s division access center team, which swiftly transferred Ginger to Tulane.
  • Gwen McCoy
    HCA Healthcare Corporate Office
    Nashville, Tenn.
    Provides support and guidance on all of HCA Healthcare’s telehealth offerings across the enterprise, and ensures that division and facility leaders can deploy telehealth technology across a broad range of services.
  • Krystal M. Gettys, BSN, RN
    Tulane Medical Center
    New Orleans, La.
    Educates nurses at several facilities—including nurses who cared for Ginger—on how to use telehealth technology for stroke care.
  • Angie Lucchi
    Overland Park, Kan.
    Supports outreach areas and educates facilities about the importance of time in stroke cases.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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