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By Randal Curtman

Managing Editor

EL DORADO — When suffering a stroke, every second counts.

That’s why the Medical Center of South Arkansas participates in the AR Saves telemedicine program.

“We see people with signs of symptoms of a stroke daily,” said Kendall Wilson, MCSA emergency room charge nurse. “But the AR Saves program is for patients who come to the emergency room within the first three hours of presenting symptoms.”

The telemedicine program, which started at MCSA in 2012, is part of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Center for Distance Health program, and is offered across the state to rural hospitals, said Sonya Justice, nursing director of emergency services.

The use of telemedicine to evaluate stroke patients has been endorsed by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, and the groups consider the method to be as effective as a bedside exam.

The video conference-based stroke treatment can also increase patient access to specialists in a field where only four neurologists exist per 10,000 people in the U.S.

The AR Saves program began in 2008, and has grown to include 48 partnering sites across the state, including MCSA, according to the website arsaves.uams.edu.

The stroke program is part of the Center for Distance Health, an innovative center within the College of Medicine that allows UAMS to respond to the demands for dynamic, contemporary health care.

According to the website, the center effectively reduces disparities in health care in Arkansas, while supporting ground-breaking research and cutting-edge programs.

“The doctor may be in Batesville, or wherever,” Wilson said, “but through the telemedicine program we can connect with him.”

MCSA began training nurses in December 2012, for AR Saves telemedicine and in 2014, MCSA was named an AR Saves “Site of the Year.”

The telemedicine monitor has both a medical and a technological

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