(WAND) - The HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital ER is partnering with a tele-stroke network.

Since 2015, HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital has been a member of an emergency room tele-stroke network launched by Hospital Sisters Health System. 

Doctors describe the service as having a "remote presence stroke specialist within minutes at the bedside," and say it provides instant access to neurology physicians who may be hundreds of miles away.

Dr. Gurpreet Mander, Chief Medical Officer of HSHS St. John's Hospital, is the Executive Director of the Illinois Telehealth Network. He said the service is especially helpful for those in rural communities who may have limited access to these kinds of services.

"This month marks our network's milestone of providing advanced emergency room (ER) telemedicine care to 3,000 stroke patients. It is an honor to celebrate this milestone, and the network's expansion into underserved rural shortage areas." The celebration happens to take place during National Stroke Month."

Minutes count in a stroke emergency. A stroke is a "brain attack" that occurs from a sudden interruption of blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, leaking blood into the spaces surrounding the brain cells.

Stroke is the number 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the United States.

A faster diagnosis and treatment improves patient outcomes.

24/7 tele-stroke services are provided in 14 hospital ERs in central and southern Illinois, including HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital, Effingham.

ITN member hospitals with 24/7 tele-stroke emergency department coverage include:

1.    Boyd Memorial Hospital (Carrollton)

2.    Carlinville Area Hospital (Carlinville)

3.    Hillsboro Area Hospital (Hillsboro)

4.    HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital (Shelbyville)

5.    HSHS Holy Family Hospital (Greenville)

6.    HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital (Effingham)

7.    HSHS St. Elizabeth's Hospital (O'Fallon)

8.    HSHS St. Francis Hospital (Litchfield)

9.    HSHS St. John's Hospital (Springfield)

10.    HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital (Breese)

11.    HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital (Highland)

12.    HSHS St. Mary's Hospital (Decatur)

13.    Mason District Hospital (Havana)

14.    Pana Community Hospital (Pana)