ALL of a sudden, Dearne Corbett realised she had no vision in one of her eyes.
Ms Corbett had been lying on the bed, relaxing by playing on her iPad, after a big morning helping her husband with some outside work.
By the time he came into the room, Ms Corbett says she could not get up off the bed.
The now 68-year-old cannot remember the ambulance ride to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital, nor what happened next.
Ms Corbett does know her husband and daughter were talking to a specialist via telehealth in the hospital, a move that likely saved her life. A specialist could oversee her diagnosis and coordinate her clot-busting therapy.
She was then transported to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where she was given endovascular therapy, using a small catheter to remove blood clots from her brain arteries.
"I woke up in recovery and looked around and could see out both eyes. When I woke up, I was pretty good. Eventually I could talk better," Ms Corbett said. "I wasn't afraid. I had accepted somehow what was happening and didn't worry. I just went with the flow."
I wasn't afraid...I just went with the flow.Stroke survivor Dearne Corbett
Ambulance Victoria's Stroke Telemedicine was employed about 350 times in July, up about 250 cases on the state average. More than 1000 Victorians have used the service since March.
VST is used in 19 hospitals, including two in northern Tasmania, in a service otherwise unique to Victoria.
Ambulance Victoria's stroke services director Chris Bladin said it was still unclear why the sharp rise in cases and whether this was possibly linked to COVID-19 factors like staying home.
This comes after Heart Foundation's chief medical adviser Garry Jennings reported in late May a 40 per cent decline in presentations to hospital emergency departments for acute coronary conditions.
Professor Jennings, a former Ballarat Health Services board member, said this was likely due to fear in visiting hospitals during the pandemic, particularly for mild symptoms and warning signs.
But Professor Bladin said data for AV's stroke telemedicine service was legitimate, serious stroke cases.
He said it was vital to reiterate time was essential in stroke cases with a quicker assessment and treatment typically resulting in better outcomes for the patient.
Ms Corbett lives in Sebastopol and estimated from the moment her husband called paramedics, to the time she was being wheeled into surgery to be within four hours.
VST now has an on-call consultancy team of stroke specialists to include a doctors in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Perth to help Victorian patients.
It doesn't respect borders...Outcomes are similar to patients in metro hospitals.Professor Chris Bladin
"It doesn't respect borders. A top specialist could be anywhere and treating patients in Ballarat," Professor Bladin said. "...Outcomes are similar to patients in metro hospitals."
Ms Corbett, now 18 months into her recovery, and said the only lingering signs of stroke were leg and knee pain and still struggling with speech sometimes.
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