After a decade of city-focused health care strategies, Wagga doctor Martin Jude is ready to turn the tables.
Newly appointed as the first regionally-based member of the Stroke Foundation's Clinical Council, Professor Jude is hoping to see expert care become region-focused.
"Regionally, it's a different situation to the metros. There's a 20 per cent high chance of having a stroke here, and there are less ideal outcomes than in the metros," Professor Jude said.
With over 25 years of experience in neurology, Professor Jude said he was passionate about seeing Wagga become a national leader in stroke care.
"It's about making sure the regions become leaders and not the followers," he said.
"Often in health, it's the cities that do things first and the regions catch up."
With his position now official, Professor Jude is keen to begin promoting solutions nationwide.
"A stroke isn't painful, people don't perceive they're having one right away," he said.
"Delays in getting expert care is a real problem all over the country.
"From our local research we know that if someone does not get to expert care in the first hour of their symptoms if they don't call an ambulance straight away, they have a much lower chance of recovery."
Although the delay is sometimes compounded by rural or remote locality, Professor Jude said it was the country cavalier attitude that usually stands in the way of timely healthcare.
"People don't like to go to the hospital, they don't like to call an ambulance because they don't want to make a fuss," he said.
"Sometimes the symptoms might not be a stroke, but you can't tell in the moment and it's critical to get that care quickly."
Patients commonly confuse the symptoms of a stroke with those associated with heart attacks, Professor Jude said.
To combat the misunderstanding, he continues to point patients towards the FAST facts, which is to say, strokes will be made evident through facial drooping, arm heaviness or inactivity, slurred or stopped speech, and will require timely attention.
"We have the doctors who know what to do, we have the ambulances who know what to do, now we need the community to know what to do," he said.
Stroke care is a relatively new field of specialised treatment, having only existed as a consistent national concern for the past 15 years.
Almost from the start, Professor Jude and his team at Wagga Base Hospital have been at the forefront, founding the standalone stroke care unit at the hospital 11 years ago.
During this time, Professor Jude and his team have consistently maintained the lowest mortality rate in the state.
"We don't like to talk about mortality when it comes to strokes, we prefer to talk about recovery," Professor Jude said.
"But we do have the lowest [mortality] rate in the state, which is five per cent in 30 days, and that's something we're very proud of."