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NRMC Implements Stroke Telemedicine Program

Stroke patients at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center (NRMC) now have immediate access to highly specialized vascular neurologists as the result of a partnership between NRMC and Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans (Ochsner).

Ochsner received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Rural Utilities Service to expand the existing telestroke network in central Louisiana. Through this network, emergency department physicians have the ability to consult immediately with Ochsner vascular 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.  NRMC is also participating in American Heart Association’s (AHA) Get with the Guidelines stroke quality improvement program to ensure that the care provided to stroke patients is aligned with the latest scientific guidelines.

“With strokes, every second counts,” explained Kirk Soileau, Chief Executive Officer of NRMC. “With this telemedicine program in place and by following the Get with the Guidelines quality improvement program, we will be able to positively impact outcomes for patients who come into our ER with strokes. These initiatives will save lives,” Soileau said.

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 NRMC 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 vascular neurologist on call at Ochsner.  The neurologist, patient and clinical team at NRMC can see and speak to each other via the webcam so that the vascular neurologist can examine the patient and review the CAT scan of the patient’s head and provide guidance on advanced treatments. All of this can be done within minutes.

In many cases, Telestroke consultation will allow patients to stay at NRMC for care. In more complicated cases or those which may require surgery, 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 for the patient.

For more information, please visit www.NRMChospital.org or call Cathy Jacobs at 318.214.4513.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • Time: Time is critical to protecting brain damage. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately

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