A new partnership will bring high-level stroke services to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, allowing patients to remain closer to home for less severe cases.
Beginning Monday, Aug. 5, specialists from UB Neurosurgery will provide on-call stroke coverage for patients at the Niagara Falls hospital around the clock using new technology called Viz.ai from Medtronic. When a patient presents at the emergency room with stroke symptoms, the technology will allow enhanced CT angiography scans to be delivered instantly to the UB Neurosurgery physician on call for diagnosis and assessment.
It’s the second of three new partnerships for UB Neurosurgery that extends volume for lower-level cases to community hospitals, while reserving only the most severe cases for treatment and surgery at the Gates Vascular Institute at Buffalo General Medical Center.
Patients who do not require surgical intervention will remain at Niagara Falls Memorial for treatment at the hospital’s cardiac stroke inpatient unit. Those with more severe symptoms will be immediately transferred to GVI for surgery. In the past, many patients with advanced stroke symptoms at Memorial’s emergency department were diagnosed only after transfer to the GVI.
“Less than 10 percent of cases have some form of surgical intervention, but in many of these cases you just don’t know and so we have a lot of transfers to the GVI,” said Joseph Ruffolo, president at Niagara Falls Memorial. “The difference here is now we have the competency of four neurosurgeons, most of whom are nationally and internationally renowned.”
The program will include on-call coverage by Dr. Elad Levy, Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, Dr. Jason Davies and Dr. Kenneth Snyder, who will direct the program. UB Neurosurgery will also provide the on-site care to patients admitted to Memorial’s Cardiac/Stroke Care Center.
UB Neurosurgery, part of UBMD Physicians Group, includes a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, neurologists and emergency medical professionals trained in comprehensive acute stroke care. The team also oversees the GVI, part of Kaleida Health.
Niagara Falls Memorial invested about $50,000 in the Medtronic Viz.ai technology that will allow the CT scans and brain perfusion studies to be transmitted electronically through a mobile app to the specialists. The technology will also help identify other potential problems in patients.
In addition to offering convenience to the patients and families who often prefer to remain closer to home, Niagara Falls Memorial will keep the patients and revenue derived from providing the care, instead of losing it to the GVI, Ruffolo said.
“A considerably less amount of patients will be transferred to the GVI, because they won’t need the surgical intervention and they will have a definitive treatment and diagnosis plan,” he said. “It should generate additional revenue not only from cases that would stay here, but also if in fact they needed other cardiac procedures to be done.”
UB Neuro will operate from the Niagara Falls office of Dr. Michael Stoffman, a partner in the practice who has based his neurosurgery practice at Niagara Falls Memorial for several years.
In June, UB Neurosurgery said it would begin providing elective neurosurgery spine services at the VA Western New York Healthcare System. The practice will also begin offering services Sept. 1 at Erie County Medical Center under the direction of Dr. Richard Spiro, a neurosurgeon joining the practice from the University of Pittsburgh.
Levy, chair of the UB Department of Neurosurgery and president of UB Neuro, said the Niagara Falls partnership provides a better triage system of care, reducing unnecessary transfers and ensuring better access to care.
“We feel we’ll create a cost savings for the community, keep care local and streamline services,” he said.
The partnerships also create what he calls “smart volume” where high-level care can be provided the other hospitals.
“What we’re trying to do is place neurosurgical expertise in these regional hospitals so patients can get the care where they want to get care, and only for highly-specialized neuro services will they be transferred,” Levy said.