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May 14, 2018 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Health, Mind & Body

Roving remedy: Methodist Hospital’s new high-tech ambulance provides immediate stroke care

Fast track: Methodist Hospital’s new Mobile Stroke Treatment vehicle will give the medical center rapid response capabilities that mitigate the risk of brain damage and death in patients.
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It’s a stroke of good fortune.

Stroke victims in the greater Park Slope area will have a better chance of surviving the deadly brain attacks with the debut of a local hospital’s mobile emergency room tailor-made to provide immediate treatment.

The so-called “mobile stroke-treatment unit,” which leaders at Methodist Hospital will begin deploying on May 28, is outfitted with equipment and emergency responders capable of starting victims’ care the second the high-tech ambulance arrives on the scene, according to a physician.

“Response time is a critical factor in stroke recovery … we are bringing the emergency room directly to a patient suffering a stroke,” said Dr. Matthew Fink, the chief neurologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, which in 2016 merged with Methodist after decades of working closely with the local institution. “This is a game changer.”

The specialty ambulance is staffed by two paramedics, a registered nurse, and an expert trained to use the vehicle’s on-board brain scanner to immediately detect signs of a stroke — the fifth leading cause of death in the country, according to National Stroke Association statistics.

The roving emergency room also features telecommunication equipment its crew can use to video conference with neurologists, who can advise on treatment as the patient is rushed to the hospital.

Methodist Hospital’s experts treat more than 400 stroke victims each year, and roughly 85 percent of those victims suffer a type of brain attack that can be mitigated by the immediate use of an intravenous medication that busts clots preventing blood flow to the vital organ in their skulls, the hospital’s top stroke doctor said.

But the IV tpa medication, which will also be aboard the mobile emergency rooms, is only effective if administered within roughly four hours of suffering the type of stroke it treats, according to Dr. Natalie Cheng, who said providing timely care is a big reason for rolling out the special ambulance — because victims often show up at the hospital when it’s too late.

“We hope to reach those patients quickly, because getting treatment as soon as possible is necessary,” said Dr. Cheng.

The Brooklyn stroke-treatment unit’s arrival follows the debut of similar vehicles in Queens and Manhattan, bringing the number of specialty ambulances in the larger New York-Presbyterian network to three — the most at any hospital in the country, a rep said.

The Manhattan vehicle responded to 454 emergencies in its first year of service, according to the rep, who said its crew provided stroke treatment roughly 40 minutes faster on average than a standard ambulance.

And Methodist Hospital’s vehicle will also be integrated into the city’s emergency-response system, allowing 911 operators to dispatch it along with city paramedics responding to stroke victims, according to the Fire Department chief.

“The FDNY is proud to once again partner with New York-Presbyterian to integrate two new mobile stroke-treatment Units into the 911 system for rapid treatment of patients,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

Medical-center bigwigs purchased the ambulance with money from a foundation funded by the fortune of a late commercial real-estate executive from New York City, the rep said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:44 pm, July 9, 2018
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