Kimon Bekelis, MD, is the Chairman of Neurointerventional Services at Catholic Health Services (CHS) and the Director of the Stroke and Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island. In the below interview, Dr. Bekelis discusses the state of stroke care at CHS and some exciting plans for the future.
How would you describe the stroke program at CHS?
We have made unbelievable progress in just 3 short years! Previously, we offered basic stroke care at primary stroke centers throughout our system. Now we have the Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island, located at Good Samaritan Hospital, which offers the highest level of care as the only Comprehensive Stroke Center in the South Shore of Long Island designated by the Joint Commission and New York State Department of Health. Additionally, St. Francis Hospital is on the path to becoming a thrombectomy-ready center, which creates two high-level stroke centers covering Suffolk and Nassau counties. A big reason for the change was a shift in perspective. Stroke is not a single disease but it involves a continuum of care that starts with the community. So we focused our resources and efforts identifying specific needs within our communities and created a hub-and-spoke model that has allowed our system to transition away from individual levels of basic care to now collectively offer the highest level of stroke care on Long Island and beyond.
Explain the hub-and-spoke model and how it benefits the patient?
It is difficult to create a Comprehensive Stroke Center for every community, so we’ve created a system to transfer patients between our hospitals in a very expeditious way, based on their needs and the level of care they require. We understand that different things can happen at the local campuses, but integration is central and that’s why all of our stroke coordinators meet regularly to constantly enhance and refine our process. Our hospitals which are not Comprehensive Stroke Centers are modeled similar to the Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island, so somebody going to those hospitals would receive similar care. I’m extremely proud of the way our teams are able to work together to provide the same level of care across Catholic Health and I think it provides comfort to our patients to know that they’ll receive great care wherever they go.
Are there any new programs or technology that will be implemented at Catholic Health?
We’re really focused on trying to recognize a wider number of strokes and identify them earlier in the process. To do this we’re starting to integrate Artificial Intelligence platforms into the identification process. This takes away the subjectivity of interpretation and allows us to quickly and accurately identify more patients that can benefit from endovascular procedures. This is something we will be starting at the Stroke and Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island and integrating into our other hospitals so that eventually our whole system will be on the same platform and there will be constant communication. We will receive alerts and notifications so we’ll be able to determine in real-time how the patient is presenting and the type of care that is required, regardless of where they are being seen. This will allow us to dramatically decrease our response times and ultimately save more lives.
For more information on stroke services offered at CHS, please visit https://www.chsli.org/neuroscience-stroke