THE odds of surviving and recovering from a stroke have skyrocketed for Border residents, thanks to a new service giving access to neurological specialists.
The $8.5 million Victorian Stroke Telemedicine program allows stroke patients in Albury or Wangaratta hospitals to be assessed via videolink by a Melbourne brain expert.
Health Minister Sussan Ley, who launched the program at Albury Hospital, said it would provide life-saving as neurologists approved essential treatment.
It has already proven its worth in the case of Cobram father-of-three Phillip Dick who suffered a stroke three months ago and was raced to Melbourne to have blood washed off his brain.
"It is life-saving, family-saving in my case because I wouldn't be around to enjoy my daughters,” Mr Dick said.
"The one that is with us today she is going to New Guinea on Monday to do the Kokoda Track and I'm tremendously proud of how she's struggling to get fit enough to do it and I wouldn't have been here to see it.
"It was because my wife realised I wasn't very well and quickly got on to Shepparton and they got on to Melbourne."
The Melbourne-based Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health is administering the service which has received $7.3 million funding from the Federal Government and $1.2 million from the Victorian Government.
Neurologist Chris Bladin, who developed the project along with public health expert Dominique Cadilhac, said it was an example of modern-day treatment.
"Telemedicine does not respect state borders," Professor Bladin said.
"In the 21st century this is how health care is going to be delivered.
"I live in Melbourne and I need to be treating patients in Townsville or Toowoomba or wherever."
Associate Professor Cadihac said that each minute saved in applying clot-busting therapy equated to another day of healthy life for a stroke sufferer.
A team of 12 neurologists will be on an around-the-clock roster in Melbourne for the program.
Florey Institute chairman Harold Mitchell, well-known for his advertising career and community service, attended the launch.
He said that 75 per cent of Australian families were affected by strokes and the burden it caused was enormous.
Ms Ley is hoping the NSW Government will support the technology being introduced into its health system, allowing hospitals at places such as Berrigan and Corowa to benefit.
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