Dr. Eric Eskioglu recently joined Novant Health as senior vice president for stroke and neurosciences. He leads stroke and neurosciences across the system with the goal of creating a world-class experience for patients regardless of where they receive services. With a history of spearheading the creation of three comprehensive stroke centers, including one of the only comprehensive stroke centers in southwest Florida, Eskioglu has the experience and dedication to lead Novant Health into the next generation of neurological care.

In his role within Novant Health, he plans to work with providers and other team members to elevate neurosciences excellence for Novant Health inpatient and outpatient services by implementing best practices and unifying processes and protocols across the system.

Eskioglu earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas and completed a two-year fellowship at the National Institutes of Health with Pfizer Clinical Research Scholars program, as well as an endovascular/vascular neurosurgery fellowship at the University of Florida. At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he completed his neurosurgical residency training.  Eskioglu also earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona.

Learn more about Eskioglu, his team of experts and what the expansion of neurosciences at Novant Health means to communities served by the health system.

Q: Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center are Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and several other Novant Health facilities are Primary Stroke Centers. What is the importance of these designations?

A: The Joint Commission, an independent not-for-profit group that accredits health care organizations, awards these accreditations to organizations that follow the best practices for stroke care. Primary Stroke Centers use a standardized method of delivering care, support patient self-management activities, individualize treatment and intervention, have an open dialogue among all patient care providers and follow the guidelines established by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Hospitals recognized as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, which is the highest level of designation, must first become a Primary Stroke Center and then show they are dedicating significant resources in staff and training to treat a complex stroke. This includes providing neuro-critical care 24 hours a day, the use of advanced imagining and participation in stroke resources. It signifies that we are providing our patients with the best care that’s given anywhere in the country.

Q: What kind of physicians make up the neurosciences team at Novant Health?

A: We truly have a comprehensive neurosciences team. From neurosurgeons who perform general neurosurgery to neuro-hospitalists who manage acute neurologic illnesses to neuro-intensivists who care for patients in the intensive care unit. We also have neuro-oncologists that are using some of the most advanced care protocols to treat brain tumors.

Q: How does Novant Health neurosciences differentiate itself from other health care systems in the area of neurosciences?

A: We have experts who can provide high-end subspecialty care such as cerebrovascular neurosurgery, brain tumor neurosurgery, multiple sclerosis neurology, Parkinson’s movement disorder neurology, vascular neurology and more. We are truly structured to provide the most comprehensive neurologic care possible. These subspecialties are most commonly found at academic hospitals but we have some of the country’s most knowledgeable subspecialists in our two major markets – Winston-Salem and Charlotte, North Carolina. Novant Health hospitals located in smaller communities provide basic neurosciences services and have access to all of our subspecialists through our neurosciences telemedicine network. We can help determine if care can be provided locally, or if a patient requires a higher level of care, he or she is quickly and easily transferred to Forsyth Medical Center or Presbyterian Medical Center for care.

Other unique aspects of our neurosciences team are that in Charlotte, we have the first female neurosurgeon (Dr. Jennifer Orning) and the first neurology-trained neuro-intensivist (Dr. Kevin Meier).

Q: What’s the benefit of having neuro-intensivists as part of the team?

A: About 30 percent of our patient population in neurosciences ends up in the intensive care unit, and all of the national studies over the last 10 years have shown that outcomes are better and rates of survival are higher if the neuro-intensivist is involved in the critical care portion of the patient’s care. We are the only system in the Charlotte area that has neuro-intensivists as a part of our neurosciences care team.

Q: What policies and procedures are in place at Novant Health for stroke patients?

A: We have a stroke team that is activated when a stroke patient is admitted into our emergency room. We are notified by the EMS team in the field so that we can immediately activate our team. When the patient arrives, he or she is evaluated for signs of stroke. If signs exist, our neuro-hospitalists conduct further tests and imaging studies. If appropriate, the patient is administered a clot-busting drug, tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). If we determine the vessel blockage is too big then we not only administer the clot-busting drug, but we activate our neuro-interventionalist team to prepare the patient for surgery. Once the patient’s vital signs are stable, the neuro-intensivist takes over and cares for the patient in the intensive care unit. Each person has a designated responsibility and everyone works seamlessly to create the best outcome for the patients. What’s most impressive is that this all occurs in less than 60 minutes from the patient entering our emergency room. Research shows that a stroke patient loses 32,000 brain cells every second of a stroke, so time really matters. Our long-term goal is to reduce this process to 30 minutes.

Q: What are the long-term goals for Novant Health as it relates to neurosciences?

A: Our system wide goal is to provide a remarkable patient experience in neurosciences regardless of the entry point of the patient into the system. Whether it’s Brunswick or Forsyth County, Matthews, or Charlotte, North Carolina, we want to give our patients the same excellent care throughout our system.

Q: How has stroke treatment improved over the last few years?

A: In the last 15 years, the biggest advancement has been the development of the clot-busting drug and guidelines for when to administer it. This advancement started in 1999 and it’s caught on quickly. Over the last two years, the biggest improvement has been the interventional neurosurgical technique, which involves going through the groin to remove the clot from the brain. In the future, I believe the use of the interventional technique will be standard protocol for treating large blood clots in the brain. I also believe we will see a great deal of advancement in the use of minimally invasive procedures to treat a number of different neurological disorders. We’re also going to electively start implanting more and more devices into the brain to improve a patient’s quality of life, such as controlling seizures, managing obesity and depression, and treating Parkinson’s disease. The future is very exciting.