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200 Hospital Avenue
Jefferson, NC 28640
336-846-7101

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Picture of a female patient getting a CT Scan done while a Medical Staff assists her in the process

Ashe Memorial Hospital transforms stroke care through new partnership


JEFFERSON, N.C. -- Ashe Memorial Hospital recently partnered with Viz.ai, an artificial intelligence tool, to bring the first Food and Drug Administration approved computer-aided triage system to northwest North Carolina.

The new innovative technology will allow Ashe Memorial Hospital to transform stroke care by facilitating early access to help speed remote diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. Ashe Memorial Hospital implemented the new technology November 9, 2020.

"We are pleased to be able to partner with Viz.ai to bring this cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to Ashe Memorial Hospital; and continue to further enhance the way our physicians are able to treat our stroke care patients," said Brian Yates, chief executive officer for Ashe Memorial Hospital. "Through faster and enhanced detection, our physicians are able to proactively respond, saving critical time while improving the efficiency and quality of patient care."

The award-winning software utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze images for blockage of one of the main arteries of the brain technically referred to as large vessel occlusion (LVO) strokes. When a patient arrives with stroke-like symptoms and it's beyond the window to administer thrombolytic therapy, a "clot-buster" drug, the patient will undergo a head CT scan to get a closer look at the blood vessels in the head and neck.

If a suspected LVO has been detected by Viz.ai's artificial intelligence algorithm, Ashe Memorial Hospital's emergency department will receive positive alert notifications, allowing doctors and nurses to promptly review the image on a mobile device. The alerts are sent out to multiple team members, including neurological specialists at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, the closest stroke intervention center, in Winston-Salem.

With conversations and image sharing happening in real time through Viz.ai's technology, doctors can potentially save critical minutes, even hours, in the triage, diagnosis and treatment of strokes.

"Strokes present themselves in strange ways, and with this new technology we can change our plan of care depending on what the alert says," said Carol Roten, director of the emergency room for Ashe Memorial Hospital. "It benefits the patient if two to three people are getting the same information. With a collaborative system in place, we can deliver care in a timely manner and that can make a difference in their outcome."

On average, the Ashe Memorial Hospital Emergency Department sees between five and seven neurological patients a week whether due to acute illness or the presence of stroke-like symptoms. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability.

The implementation of Viz.ai was supported through a three-year, $499,000 grant that Novant Health, a nationally recognized leader in stroke care, received from The Duke Endowment to expand its teleneurology program and provide remote-access stroke care to five rural North Carolina hospitals, including Ashe Memorial. Novant Health was the first in the Carolinas to partner with Viz.ai.

About Ashe Memorial Hospital

For nearly 80 years, Ashe Memorial Hospital's dedicated team of board certified physicians, nurses and staff members have provided the highest quality medical care available to the people of Ashe County and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Ashe Memorial Hospital offers a wide variety of emergency, elective, rehabilitation and preventative health services.

Founded in 1941, Ashe Memorial Hospital is a fully accredited 25 bed critical hospital located in Jefferson, N.C. For more information, please visit ashememorial.org or call 336-846-7101.