Bastrop, Louisiana, March 24, 2017 – Stroke patients at Morehouse General Hospital now have immediate access to highly specialized neurologists as the result of a partnership between [Hospital] and Ochsner Health System in New Orleans (Ochsner). Through the Telestroke network, emergency department physicians have the ability to consult immediately with Ochsner neurologists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year using telemedicine equipment to determine the best treatment options for stroke patients.
Telemedicine programs improve the quality of care for patients outside of urban areas by allowing them access to specialists and by reducing the costs associated with travel and the time spent away from work and family. “The Ochsner TeleHealth program allows patients across the Gulf South Region to receive care for specialty services such as stroke in their local community,” says Rachelle Longo, Director of TeleHealth at Ochsner. “This model of keeping patients local not only benefits the patients, but the community hospital as well! Morehouse General can now treat stroke patients in a matter of minutes with the ability to have an Ochsner Neurologist evaluate these patients through telemedicine. This allows stroke victims in the surrounding community to have access to the same level of care as a stroke victim in New Orleans,” added Longo.
Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that stops the flow of blood to the brain and deprives the surrounding brain tissue of oxygen. In the absence of oxygen, the brain cells in the immediate area begin to die, causing permanent brain damage, disability or death. Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke, so immediate medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.
When a patient comes into the emergency department at Morehouse General Hospital with the symptoms of an acute ischemic stroke, a computer with an advanced webcam will be brought to the bedside where the clinical team will connect with a neurologist on call at Ochsner. The neurologist, patient and clinical team at Morehouse General Hospital can see and speak to each other throughout the consult. The physician will examine the patient and review the CAT scan of the patient’s head, providing guidance on advanced treatments within minutes.
In many cases, Telestroke consultation will allow patients to stay at Morehouse General Hospital. In more complicated cases the patient may need to be transferred to Ochsner or another facility for specialized treatment. Telestroke is still beneficial in these cases because the neurologist will have already met and started treatment the patient.
Marie Stephenson, Morehouse General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, “We are very excited to partner with Ochsner TeleHealth Program to bring this level of service to the patients we serve. Through this partnership, patients in our area with stroke or stroke symptoms will receive a higher of level of care through technology, staff, physician, and EMS education and consultation with the physicians at Ochsner. This service will improve patient safety and elevate the quality of care while keeping them close to home.”