Rapides Regional Medical Center is partnering with Tulane Health System’s TeleStroke Network to provide patients and caregivers with 24-hour, on-call access to Tulane’s stroke and neuroscience experts for acute stroke consultation.

Tulane Health System’s acclaimed Tulane Expert teleconsulting – or TEC – network provides another level of care for Rapides Regional Medical Center’s Certified Primary Stroke Center, the only area stroke center with 24-hour neurosurgery coverage.

Using the TEC system, physicians at RRMC can communicate via a two-way, live video, audio and image-sharing system with stroke neurologists from Tulane Health System. Tulane experts can evaluate the patient in real time to diagnose a stroke and work with RRMC 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, CEO of Rapides Regional Medical Center. “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 third-leading cause of death and its leading cause of adult disability. Delays in diagnosis and treatment can contribute to the mortality and disability associated with stroke, 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. “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 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.

Rapides Regional Medical Center is the eighth hospital in the Gulf South region to join the TEC network.

“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.”