Cochennet was attending a meeting at the Colorado Hospitals Association in Vail when he suffered a stroke.
"I didn't know it at the time but I started having dysfunction," Cochennet said. "I was struggling with my symptoms for a bit and then went to Vail Medical Center."
Doctors at the hospital did what they could, but then brought in some extra help in the form of what they call a telemedicine system, a special camera and screen with a direct link to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. On the other end of the camera was Dr. Chris Fanale, a neurologist.
"This telemedicine technology allows a short specialist to almost instantly evaluate these patients regardless of where they are located," Fanale said. "I was actually at another hospital seeing patients and I get a call from Vail Medical Center, saying that they had a patient with possible acute stroke symptoms and they told me his name and I recognized it instantly."
By sheer chance, Fanale and Cochennet already knew each other. They had been working together to bring the telemedicine system to Pagosa Springs Medical Center.
"I've been intrigued by that and am trying to figure out how we can do it there," Cochennet said.
All coincidence aside, the fact that the pair were able to use the new video technology could have very well saved Cochennet's life.
That's something Cochennet said he's going to keep in mind as he tries to bring the new system to his own hospital, along with a very personal story to tell for anyone who has their doubts about its effectiveness.
"I feel very blessed," he said. "I'm certain that there are other things that can be done but this is one tool that we'll certainly fully explore."
Cochennet is making a speedy recovery and was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon.
The telemedicine system was developed in 2006, and it allows neurologists to remotely control tools such as cameras, stethoscopes, and ultrasounds to evaluate patients, even if they are in a hospital thousands of miles away. The system works as long as both hospitals have the proper equipment and have an internet connection.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)