ROY PIZZARELLO: I'm Roy Pizzarello. I'm a retired cardiologist and I live in New York City. It was February of 2011 and I was home vacuuming. All of a sudden, I couldn't move my right arm or my right leg and I remember I couldn't speak.
And luckily I was right by the bed so I lay down on the bed. My wife came in and she saw right away that I was having a stroke. It took around 15 minutes for the ambulance to come and then probably another 15 minutes to get to the emergency room.
MATTHEW FINK: When Roy developed symptoms of a stroke, he was brought by ambulance to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell. Our stroke team was waiting for him in the emergency department. It was discovered that he had blockage of what we call the left middle cerebral artery.
He was then treated with a clot-busting drug and then went immediately to the angiography suite where he underwent a procedure to remove the blood clot. Roy benefited immensely from the treatments that we have because he got to the hospital quickly. The key to success is speed with which we deliver the treatments.
Pull and pull. Push me away. We're now in a situation where patients are getting to the hospital as fast as they can but they're still not getting there fast enough. So we're moving into the next era of treatment, which is to take the treatment to the patient in the field. Time is so critical with a stroke because with every minute, you will lose 1.9 million brain cells.
JEFF BOKSER: The history of emergency medical services has always been about how quickly we could get to a patient. What we're looking to do here with the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit is truly transformational.
MATTHEW FINK: The mobile stroke treatment unit is a custom-designed ambulance that has a specially designed CT scanner built into the ambulance so that we can do brain scans in the field. And we carry TPA with us, we carry a variety of other medications that can be delivered on the ambulance. The goal being that we can treat the patient with the critical medications that can make a big difference.
JEFF BOKSER: We work collaboratively with the 911 dispatch operators to develop specialized questions. These questions are designed to make sure that this unit gets appropriately routed.
MATTHEW FINK: We're collecting a huge amount of data to compare the benefit of treatment on the Mobile Stroke Unit to a standard ambulance arrival to our emergency room.
BABAK NAVI: The Mobile Stroke Unit is an amazing opportunity to identify stroke patients in the ultra early setting and target these patients for clinical trials. Our researchers at the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute are actively investigating which biomarkers of blood, imaging, and examination are useful for determining long-term prognosis.
SPEAKER 5: In this stroke model, we think that the monocytes--
BABAK NAVI: In addition, we are one of 25 selected NIH-funded regional coordinating centers for StrokeNet. And our mission is to streamline and lead exciting clinical research trials in stroke prevention, stroke treatments, and stroke recovery
ROY PIZZARELLO: Having early intervention got me well. I've been very active, I play tennis, I go to the park a lot, and my wife and I travel about three to six months a year. Even though I had a stroke, I have no disability.
JEFF BOKSER: We are really pleased to have full support of the State Department of Health as well as the Fire Department of New York. Without that support, we would not be able to launch the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit. This is a true partnership between Weill Cornell Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
MATTHEW FINK: I think we're showing the rest of the world that we really are the best in the field and that we will continue to be a leader in health care and a leader in treating patients with stroke.
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When Roy Pizzarello suddenly had a stroke, he was fortunate to get to the hospital quickly. For stroke patients, such early intervention is vital. That’s why Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center teamed up to create a mobile stroke treatment unit. With a specially designed CT scanner, the custom-built ambulance allows first responders to conduct brain scans and administer treatment in the field.