“Hub and Spoke” Model Provides Coverage Across Much of Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS – During a stroke, 1.9 million irreplaceable brain cells are lost each minute. Time is of the essence. Yet most rural and many urban hospitals do not have neurologists on call to diagnose and care for emergency stroke patients. Since August 2009, however, through Ochsner’s ASSERT (Acute Stroke System for Emergent Regional Telestroke) telemedicine program, 1,000 patients around the state have been able to receive specialized care from Ochsner neurologists in that integral timeframe between symptom onset and treatment.
Via Ochsner’s ASSERT program, stroke neurologists are present virtually at a growing number of hospitals. Through secure wireless data and video communication, Ochsner’s stroke team evaluates patients, diagnoses, directs care, and ensures timely thrombolytic therapy is administered. With Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans functioning as the “hub,” ASSERT links specially-trained vascular neurologists to “spoke” hospitals 24/7 for collaborative care.
Ochsner Medical Center was the first hospital in Louisiana to use telemedicine to treat strokes in patients in areas with smaller hospitals. In the two and a half years since its implementation, Ochsner has become one of the fastest growing networks in the country with 13 spoke hospitals and its 1,000th patient consultation performed at Pointe Coupee General Hospital on January 18. In October, HealthGrades rated Ochsner among the 100 Best Hospitals in the Nation for Stroke Care. Ochsner was the only hospital in Louisiana to achieve this honor.
“Ochsner’s ASSERT program has made such a tremendous difference in this community,” said Dr. Brian LeBlanc of Lake Physician Group in New Roads. “In the past, being in a rural area limited our ability to transfer our patients to Baton Rouge within the three-hour window required for tPA [treatment]. Now, we have better outcomes, hands down.”
“Our concept for the ASSERT program was to offer the highest quality stroke care where it was needed and provide early triage to a different level of care if required,” said Dr. Kenneth Gaines, Chairman, Department of Neurology. “We hope our telestroke system partners feel Ochsner telestroke has improved stroke care not just in the neighborhood around our flagship hospital but for those partner institutions hundreds of miles away.”
Spoke hospitals include Ochsner Baptist Medical Center; Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge; Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank Campus; Ochsner St. Anne General Hospital in Raceland; Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner; Ochsner Medical Center – North Shore; Franklin Foundation Hospital in Franklin; St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling, St. James Parish Hospital in Lutcher, St. Tammany Parish Hospital in Covington, Pointe Coupee General Hospital in New Roads and Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Cut Off. Christus St. Frances Cabrini in Alexandria will join the network in March 2012.
For more information on Ochsner’s ASSERT program or our Neurology department, please visit ochsner.org/stroke or call 504-842-3980.
The most common symptoms of a stroke are: trouble speaking, trouble seeing, weakness of one side of the body or difficulty walking. If you or a loved one experiences one or several of these symptoms suddenly, please call 911.
Ochsner Health System is southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system with eight hospitals and over 38 health centers in Louisiana. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 16 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across seven specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 12,500 employees, over 850 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 300 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.