When Every Minute Matters

New telestroke collaboration with Mayo Clinic enhances acute stroke care

Telestroke, also called stroke telemedicine, allows doctors with advanced training to communicate using modern technology in a concerted team effort to treat patients at another location.

The main advantage? Time and timing. “This is a 24/7 service where patients can be evaluated in minutes,” says Maxim D. Hammer, M.D., Chief of Neurology who practices with St. Clair Medical Group. “A Mayo Clinic stroke specialist will be able to provide video consultation to any patient when an acute stroke is suspected in order to help guide treatment decisions.”

The telestroke program is made possible through St. Clair’s connection with Mayo Clinic. This month, St. Clair celebrates its six-year anniversary as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a relationship that entails everything from providing second opinions from a Mayo Clinic specialist or subspecialist to leveraging best practices, advancing programs, and working together to combat a global pandemic. “We’re excited because Mayo Clinic is the highest-rated healthcare system in the country.

The community will be well-served by receiving expert consultation from their doctors any time, day or night—and this will only enhance the quality of stroke care patients receive at St. Clair,” says Dr. Hammer. Taking advantage of every available tool in a team-based environment is what excites Maria Abraham, MPAS, PA-C, Director of the Neuroscience Service Line at St. Clair. “We’re always looking to improve what we do every day, and a key is enhancing relationships with our world-class collaborators like Mayo Clinic,” she says.

Both Abraham and Dr. Hammer are effusive in their praise of Bart M. Demaerschalk, M.D., Chair, Division of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, and Charisse A. Nord, MA, Telestroke Operations Manager, Mayo Clinic, who were instrumental in bringing this expertise to St. Clair.

“Every decision we make is designed to continuously improve treatment times for patients having a stroke,” says Dr. Hammer. “We’re very proud of working with Mayo Clinic because they’re the model of how stroke care is delivered.”

Dr. Hammer is board-certified in both neurology and vascular neurology. He earned his medical degree at  Albany Medical College and completed a neurology residency at Cleveland Clinic, where he was elected chief resident. He also completed a vascular neurology fellowship at UPMC. Before joining St. Clair Health, he held numerous titles, including Vice Chairman, Clinical Affairs, Department of Neurology; Clinical Director of Neurology; and Director of Stroke Services at UPMC Mercy Hospital. Dr. Hammer also currently serves as an associate professor, Department of Neurology, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He practices with St. Clair Medical Group and was named a Top Doctor by Pittsburgh Magazine in 2022. To contact Dr. Hammer, please call 412.942.6300.