Mobile units can quickly respond to stroke patients on Long Island

Stroke is the most time-sensitive diagnosis in medicine so doctors at Stony Brook Medicine hope their two new state-of-the-art mobile stroke units will increase the likelihood of a patient's full recovery.

"The idea of the program is to give patients the treatment they need as soon as possible, to get patient's an accurate stroke diagnosis as soon as possible and to get them to the hospital that they need to go to, the most appropriate hospital the very first time," said Dr. David Fiorella, the director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular Center.

Each unit will be staffed with a critical care nurse, a CT tech, a paramedic, and an EMT. If a patient shows symptoms of stroke, a 911 dispatcher will send a local ambulance along with the mobile stroke unit.

A demonstration inside showed the team's ability to act quickly. Telemedicine capability allows doctors to start assessing the patient almost immediately.

"We'll be able to interview the patient, watch the examination and ask for additional examination if necessary but between that and the CAT scan be able to determine whether it's an ischemic stroke—one caused by a blood clot or a hemorrhage," said Dr. Michael Guido, the director of the Neurology Stroke Program at Stony Brook Medicine.

The first two units will be rolled out in April and May. They'll be stationed at Exits 57 and 68 along the Long Island Expressway from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Research has shown this is when the majority of stroke calls occur.

Double stroke survivor Vita Ross said a unit like this one can save valuable time when every second counts.

"It's going to be so helpful to anyone that's having a stroke to get the care needed to make it so it's not so devastating to the survivor of the stroke," Ross said.

Each truck costs approximately $1 million. Stony Brook hopes to deploy a third unit in Riverhead later this year.