Mobile stroke unit credited with saving man's life

Bill Rothmeier owes his life to Stony Brook University Hospital's state-of-the-art mobile stroke unit, equipped with CT scanners, contrast injectors, and its very own hospital staff.

"My carotid artery was 99-percent clogged," Bothmeier said. "They put a stent in that, reached up into my brain and pulled out that blood clot."

Bill and his wife, Eileen, were heading home from upstate New York on Mother's Day when it happened.

Eileen said that Bill, who was behind the wheel, began to drive erratically, so she advised him to pull over at a rest stop. By the time Eileen drove the car home, Bill was slurring his speech and was confused.

"When I got home, we took his blood pressure because I figured it was the blood pressure, and it was sky high," she said. "I said, 'We need to go to the emergency room.'"

911 dispatched one of the hospital's two mobile stroke units to the couple's house in Oakdale.

Dr. David Fiorella, the director of Stony Brook University Hospital's Cerebrovascular Center, diagnosed Rothmeier with two blockages that needed immediate surgery.

"They get faster care, a diagnosis quickly, and they go to the most appropriate hospital for the level of intervention that they need," Fiorella said.

Thanks to the hospital's life-saving technology, Rothmeier had a happy ending. He has made a full recovery and has been reunited with his wife, four children, 14 grandchildren, and his rescue dog, Odie.

The hospital deployed its first two mobile stroke units this spring, investing about $1 million into each of them. It plans to roll out a third mobile stroke unit in Riverhead within the next year.