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May 28. 2014 9:58PM

Grant will help brain aneurysm patients at DHMC

LEBANON — A grant made to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center will help to improve care for brain aneurysm patients in northern New England.

The $150,000 grant to the Center for Telehealth at Dartmouth-Hitchcock from the Missy Project was announced Tuesday.

Marisa “Missy” Magel was 12 when she passed away suddenly while at summer camp in rural Texas from brain aneurysm disease, a disease her family never knew she had.

Following her death, her family started the Texas-based foundation in 1999. The grant will “help brain aneurysm patients in northern New England have rapid access to neurovascular specialists; access that may have helped save Missy’s life,” Dartmouth-Hitchcock said in the announcement.

“Telemedicine plays a crucial role in delivering health care in the right place at the right time, especially in areas where there is no access to the medical expertise that is needed,” said doctor Sarah Pletcher, director of the Center for Telehealth and the Center for Rural Emergency Services and Trauma at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. “Thanks to this grant from the Missy Project we can use telemedicine platforms to give children and adults real-time access to neurovascular specialty care, in partnership with local providers and community hospitals in our region and beyond.”

Brain aneurysm disease claims 32,000 lives annually in the United States — more than prostate cancer — partly because brain aneurysms are often misdiagnosed as migraine headaches, according to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Pletcher will oversee the neurovascular telemedicine program with doctor Robert J. Singer, a board certified neurological surgeon with specialty training in the diagnosis and management of neurovascular diseases in children and adults.

In addition to virtual aneurysm clinics, the project includes an emergency department telemedicine acute consult service for pediatric and adult patients with suspected subarachnoid hemorrhage.

“To me, this is a brilliant program and a great way to serve the community,” Mary Magel said in the announcement. “I think this will dramatically cut the time from incident to treatment and I believe it’s going to save a lot of lives.” Magel is the executive director of the Missy Project and mother of the late Missy Magel.

The nonprofit’s board voted unanimously to fund the Center for Telehealth’s program, she said.

The virtual aneurysm clinic will include educational content and a real-time video visit with Singer.“Ordinarily, after getting a scan from their doctor, patients have to wait weeks until they can get an appointment with me,” Singer said. “Many of them then drive great distances for what is typically a 15-minute appointment, and then they have to return at a later time if they need a diagnostic or treatment procedure. That 15-minute appointment can easily be conducted via the virtual aneurysm clinic. This reduces patient travel and the wait time for an appointment, and also give patients a better visit.”

mpierce@newstote.com


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