Saint Thomas Getting an Upgrade


Saint Thomas Health, part of Ascension, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health system and largest Catholic health system, announced the expansion of its Telestroke Network to three outlying Saint Thomas Health Hospitals: Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta and Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville. This expansion brings neurology access to patients who may be experiencing a stroke—where minutes count—to 10 locations throughout Middle Tennessee. The full list of locations also includes Saint Thomas River Park in McMinnville, which implemented this technology one year ago, as well as all Saint Thomas Health hospitals and Saint Thomas Health-affiliated hospitals such as Lincoln County Medical Center and Henry County Medical Center.

“The Telestroke Network, now in place at all Saint Thomas Health Hospitals, expands the gold standard in stroke care for patients to four of our rural hospitals, which means that every Saint Thomas Health patient now has access to the specialty care they need when time is of the essence,” said Amy Couvillion, RN, BSN, Saint Thomas Health System Stroke/Telemedicine Director. “When a patient arrives at one of our Emergency Departments, and symptoms of a stroke are apparent, we now have all of the necessary resources in place to administer the highest level of care, including board-certified neurologists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via technology. We have developed a well-defined protocol comprised of best practices that is immediately enacted when a possible stroke patient arrives. We have covered more than 250 telestroke visits since we launched the network in April 2014.”

Couvillion says the staff and physicians at all four facilities attended on-site training in June 2016; the telestroke service was available at all four hospitals as of June 30, 2016.

“I am pleased that the Saint Thomas Health Telestroke Network has expanded to four of our regional hospitals, which means that every Saint Thomas Health patient now has access to the specialty care they need when time is of the essence,” said Gordon Ferguson, President and CEO of Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and President of Saint Thomas Regional Hospitals. “As we expand our footprint throughout the Upper Cumberland area, we are proud to offer the gold standard in stroke care for the communities we serve.”

The Saint Thomas Telestroke Network is a part of Ascension’s national virtual care initiative, which aims to ensure patients have access to compassionate, personalized care across its ministry markets.

“We have trained all personnel so that every single person on the stroke care team knows his or her job, and then, performs that job in a timed, appropriate sequence. This requires having a very specific plan of action in place,” said Dr. Frank Lafranchise, Saint Thomas Health System Stroke/Neurosciences Medical Director.
“With this approach, we have drastically shortened time-to-triage and time-to-treatment for our stroke patients. In an acute stroke, time is the critical element in preventing or reducing damage to the patient’s brain. With a board-certified neurologist at the bedside, the patient is more likely to receive intravenous tPA, the drug that is the game-changer for stroke if received within three hours, in a timely fashion. The neurologist then works with the neurosurgery team to evaluate the patient for endovascular rescue, the latest effective treatment option for stroke patients. The sooner these treatments are started, the better for the patient.”

Chris Young, Vice President of New Virtual Market Development and Incubations for Ascension, added, “The Telestroke Network is a testament to Saint Thomas’ commitment to ensuring patients throughout middle Tennessee have virtual access to the highest quality of care from some of Nashville’s best physicians and providers.”


Saint Thomas Health is Middle Tennessee’s faith-based, not-for-profit health care system united as one healing community. Saint Thomas Health is focused on transforming the healthcare experience and helping people live healthier lives, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. The regional health system includes nine hospitals: Saint Thomas Hospital for Spinal Surgery, Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and Saint Thomas West Hospital in Nashville, Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Saint Thomas Hickman Hospital in Centerville, Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital in Smithville, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital in Sparta, Saint Thomas River Park Hospital in McMinnville and Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. A comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities complements the hospital services and covers a 68-county area. Saint Thomas Health is a member of Ascension, a Catholic organization that is the largest not-for-profit health system in the United States. For more information, visit

About Ascension

Ascension ( is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. As the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, Ascension is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. In FY2015, Ascension provided nearly $2 billion in care of persons living in poverty and other community benefit programs. Approximately 160,000 associates and 36,000 aligned providers serve in 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to healthcare delivery, Ascension subsidiaries provide a variety of services and solutions including physician practice management, venture capital investing, investment management, biomedical engineering, clinical care management, information services, risk management, and contracting through Ascension’s own group purchasing organization.



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