PIPESTONE, MN (KELO) — Dick Whipple talks with his sister in California a couple times a week on the phone.
But a call with his sibling this summer was anything but routine.
“I couldn’t talk to her. Things went dead,” Stroke patient Dick Whipple said.
The 79-year-old couldn’t get the words to come out of his mouth.
Dick’s sister called his wife Jill who was on the road back home to Pipestone.
“She was panicking and very concerned because she said I just got off with Dick and she said something’s wrong. I think he’s having a heart attack,” Dick’s wife Jill Whipple said.
But the retired nurse suspected her husband was having a stroke.
She called her son and told him to go check on Dick and call for an ambulance.
Dick was taken to Pipestone County Medical Center where CT scans were done on his head.
Only this time, staff were using an additional tool to detect a possible stroke.
It’s called Viz.ai.
More than 1,500 hospitals are using it.
One of its capabilities, allows artificial intelligence to read CT scans and detect strokes.
Doctors at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls are then alerted to look at the images, which could help expedite treatment.
When it comes to stroke patients, there’s no time to waste.
Dr. William Rossing is the Medical Director of the Avera McKennan Stroke Center.
“Timing is crucial for management of stroke, and it starts with recognition of the stroke symptoms by the patient or their significant other and response of the EMS system and finally getting them here to the hospital,” Rossing said.
Jordana Neeman is a physician assistant at Pipestone County Medical Center.
Dick’s case was her first time using the technology with a patient.
He was having a stroke.
Neeman says Viz.ai did speed up his treatment.
“Within minutes of having his scans back we knew and I was talking to neurosurgery and neurology that we had to get things going and the medicine going to help reverse the symptoms, so a lot of things aligned well that day, but this did help to expedite his treatment and ultimately get him the medication and get him transferred to Sioux Falls,” Neeman said.
Dick thinks his outcome could’ve been different without the technology.
“I think it actually saved my life. I mean, what I’m saying to you, I’m here, I can do my own thing. Otherwise, I would probably be dead or at Good Sam, but I can take care of myself without any problems,” Dick Whipple said.
The husband and wife of nearly 40 years are grateful for they can still have these mornings together in their living room.
“I don’t have much of a sense of humor. My kids always tell me mom lighten up, but he can make me laugh, and I don’t want to lose that,” Jill Whipple said.
“I feel I’m really, really lucky that I can spend time with my grandkids yet. I lucked out, I really did,” Dick Whipple said.
Dr. Rossing says the the symptoms of stroke include: numbness, paralysis on one side of the body, and difficulty speaking.
If you or someone you know is having these symptoms, call 911.