Tulane Health System’s acclaimed Tulane Expert teleConsulting– or TEC – network is now supporting Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, providing patients and caregivers there with 24-hour, on-call access to Tulane’s stroke and neuroscience experts for acute stroke consultation.

Using the TEC system, physicians at Rapides Regional can communicate via a two-way, live video, audio and image-sharing system with stroke neurologists from Tulane Health System. Those experts can evaluate the patient in real time to diagnose a stroke and work with local physicians to determine the best treatment options.

“This partnership between our skilled, compassionate providers and Tulane Health System’s outstanding medical staff will help save lives and preserve brain function, as time is a crucial factor when someone suffers a stroke,” said Jason Cobb, Rapides Regional CEO. “With seamless, real-time access to Tulane stroke experts, this is one more way to help provide the highest quality care to our patients, close to home.”

According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 strokes occur in the United States each year. Stroke is the country’s fifth-leading cause of death and its leading cause of adult disability. These numbers have decreased in recent years because of greater patient awareness of stroke symptoms and improved access to stroke care and experts through programs like telemedicine, said Dr. Aimee Aysenne, a neurologist with the Tulane Neuroscience Center and one of the stroke experts who consults with TEC’s partner facilities.

“This is a personal passion for me,” Dr. Aysenne said. “I’m from a rural part of Louisiana, and I know my parents would be hours away from the care they’d need if not for something like this. For best outcomes, a stroke has to be identified – and treatment has to begin – within three hours. Time is critical, and this technology helps stroke experts connect with rural hospitals and their patients in just a few moments.”

Tulane’s stroke program was the first in New Orleans to be certified by the Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, representing its ability to care for the most complex stroke cases. The American Heart Association has awarded the Tulane stroke program its “Gold Plus” recognition, and Tulane is the first in the state to receive its “Target: Stroke Honor Roll – Elite Plus” award, the highest achievement level possible. The Tulane Neuroscience Center provides a full range of adult and pediatric services – from stroke care to neurosurgery, neurology and neuroimaging – which offer a full continuum of care should patients need to be transferred because of highly complex or advanced cases.

Rapides Regional is the eighth hospital in the Gulf South region to join the TEC network. Other member hospitals include Louisiana facilities Bernard Parish Hospital in Chalmette, Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital in Lake Charles, North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond, Prevost Memorial Hospital in Donaldsonville and Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton, as well as Garden Park Medical Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.

“Telemedicine lets us reach into a community, connect with providers there and let them consult with a stroke expert immediately. Of course, technology can only go so far – people need to know stroke symptoms, and get to as hospital as quickly as they can if a stroke is suspected,” Dr. Aysenne said. “We teach the acronym F.A.S.T: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, Time is critical. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, call 911 immediately.”

To learn more, or to take an online test to assess your risk of stroke, please visit TulaneHealthcare.com/Stroke.