Patient Care

Mobile Stroke Unit Extends Operating Hours, Expanding Reach of Lifesaving Care

May. 15, 2024

The UR Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU), which brings the expertise and technology necessary to diagnose and treat stroke directly to the patient, has extended services to the weekends. Effective May 11, 2024, the MSU will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week.

First launched in September 2018, the MSU, which is operated in partnership with American Medical Response (AMR), remains the only unit of its kind in Upstate New York. Since then, the MSU has been dispatched to respond to more than 500 stroke cases, and data shows that the unit is able to quickly deliver care and help patients recover more function.

“With the expansion into weekends, the UR Medicine team is excited to work with AMR and county EMS agencies to identify and treat a larger number of stroke patients, offering more opportunities for rapid stroke intervention that ultimately improves stroke outcomes,” said Tarun Bhalla, MD, PhD, chief of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Services with the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the MSU Program.

MSU interior
Interior of UR Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit

The MSU delivers time-sensitive treatment directly to the patient’s location. The unit is staffed with specialized, stroke-trained personnel, including a vascular neurologist who evaluates the patient on scene via telemedicine. The unit is also equipped with a CT scanner and stocked with essential medications necessary for prompt stroke diagnosis and treatment on site, including clot busting IV thrombolytic (IVT) drugs.

Patients can also undergo advanced CT vessel imaging on the unit that can detect large vessel strokes eligible for surgical intervention. If such strokes are identified, patients can be transferred directly from the MSU to the operating room, bypassing the local emergency room and further reducing time to treatment.

Because MSUs bring treatment to the patient, they are better situated to administer IVT drugs within the crucial first “golden hour” of stroke onset.

Treatment during this period substantially enhances the likelihood of post-stroke recovery, with 70 percent better odds of returning to normal function. Compared to traditional emergency medical care:

  • The UR Medicine MSU on average reduces the time between dispatch and treatment by 45 minutes, and 60 minutes from the last time known symptom-free to treatment; and
  • The unit is 15 times more likely to administer IVT drugs during the golden hour compared to regional emergency rooms.

“The expedited care provided by the MSU reduces hospital length of stay and increases the likelihood of discharge to home, offering critical benefits in alleviating the social, emotional, and economic burdens borne by stroke patients, their caregivers and health care institutions,” said Curt Benesch, MD, medical director of the UR Medicine Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The MSU is part UR Medicine’s commitment to provide state-of-the-art stroke care to the Finger Lake region, which includes:

The MSU serves Monroe, Ontario, and Wayne Counties, with the exception of the towns of Henrietta, Rush, Chili, and Wheatland.