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Rural AZ hospital prepares for future cuts



Mayor Jack Porter arrived at the only post office in Bisbee, AZ, on a red motorcycle. Getting off, he walked with a slight limp, the only lingering effect of a frightening morning last July when he awoke with numbness in his right side and slurred speech. The paramedics had rushed him to the only emergency room in rural Bisbee at the Copper Queen Community Hospital. There, doctors determined he was having a stroke and gave him tPA, a clot-busting drug that, when administered within a tight timeframe, can minimize a stroke's effects. Rural hospitals in Arizona rarely give tPA because they don't have stroke specialists; instead, they transfer patients immediately by helicopter to Tucson or Phoenix. But physicians at Copper Queen have a protocol that allows them to work with specialists remotely. So for Porter, that meant doctors 200 miles away at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale diagnosed his condition over a video link, allowing Copper Queen physicians to administer the drug on the spot, saving precious time. "The right decisions were made and I'm alive and walking today," says Porter. "If things hadn't gone well, I could have been another nursing home candidate."
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