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Advancing Progress and Possibilities for a Healthier Future

Ochsner’s Growing Role as a Research Leader

Two 2019 research grants underscore Ochsner’s growing
role as a leader in research studies.

LPN Donna Belette assists resident Charles Richards in completing a monthly telehealth visit.

Ochsner relentlessly seeks innovative solutions for our cardiac patients, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Ochsner a $1.3 million shared grant for cardiothoracic surgery research. The grant establishes Ochsner as an affiliate linked clinical research center. Ochsner will conduct collaborative randomized control trials with Cleveland Clinic as part of the larger Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network (CTSN), a network of North American hospitals that work together to conduct collaborative clinical trials aimed at finding solutions for important cardiac issues impacting public health.

According to Ochsner’s Dr. Patrick E. Parrino, Section Head of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, “Establishing linked research centers across the country expands our access to trials geared toward improving overall cardiovascular health. Working hand in hand with Cleveland Clinic and the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network is just one more way we are creating new opportunities for our patients.”

A second innovative study seeks to explore the role that interactive technology can play to improve treatment of memory care residents of Lambeth House in New Orleans. The study focuses on the 16 residents in Mercer’s Way — the memory care unit at Lambeth House. This partnership between a continuous care retirement community and regional healthcare leader is the first of its kind in Louisiana to infuse interactive technology into its care plan for residents.

Over the course of a 12-month pilot program, Ochsner and Lambeth House are investigating the effectiveness of a customized treatment plan delivered through a pilot program utilizing remote technology, or telehealth. As part of the program, each patient is outfitted with an iPad along with a Fitbit to monitor sleep and movement. Once a month, residents participate in a 30- to 60-minute telehealth visit with an Ochsner neuropsychologist — a type of psychologist that specializes in understanding the relationship between the brain and behavior. The visits are conducted virtually via iPad, and a specialist is able to consult patients in the same way as an in-person appointment.

Routine is critically important for patients suffering with dementia and other neurological diseases. Even something as seemingly simple as leaving the facility to go to a doctor’s appointment can result in unnecessary confusion and stress for a patient,” said Dr. Robert John Sawyer, Co-Director, Cognitive Disorders and Brain Health Program, Department of Neurology and Neurosciences at Ochsner Health. “By leveraging telehealth, this partnership enables Ochsner to bring high-quality neurological care to these residents in a familiar setting.” 

Dr. Bridget Bagert: Pursuing New
Weapons in the Fight Against MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, is the most common disabling disease of young adults, affecting 1 million people in the U.S. Although its exact cause is unknown, MS is both highly treatable and highly variable in its impact on patients. The Ochsner MS Center, which is directed by neurologist Dr. Bridget Bagert, has become a site for a novel phase 1 clinical trial using a precision medicine approach to treatment. The treatment methodology involves infusing healthy donor immune cells into people living with MS. Dr. Bagert, a star in her field who has twice been selected for the Ochsner Spirit of Leadership Award, calls Ochsner’s participation in this groundbreaking research effort her proudest academic accomplishment.