Though the village of Oak Park did not need to call upon a mobile stroke unit in 2018, trustees approved an extension to its agreement with Rush University Medical Center.
The mobile stroke unit is a custom-built ambulance outfitted with a Rush-owned physician clinic, which can provide mobile stroke diagnostics and treatment services.
"It's a great resource," Oak Park Fire Chief Tom Ebsen said. "I think the reasons we haven't used it in the last year is time and proximity. We average about three strokes a month and had 37 strokes last year."
With two hospitals in the village—Rush Oak Park Hospital, 520 S. Maple Ave., and West Suburban Medical Center, 3 Erie St.—Ebsen said many times it is faster to take stroke victims to a hospital rather than call on the unit.
"In the month of January, there were three strokes we had in the village," Ebsen said. "Our transport times to one of those hospitals was four minutes, three minutes and just over one minute. In each of those cases, we could get to the hospital much quicker than if we called the mobile stroke unit."
Trustees unanimously approved a two-year extension with Rush University Medical Center on Feb. 19. The village first entered a one-year agreement with Rush in March 2018.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen, Rush officials said.
"It was determined, in the field, the most expeditious method of treatment would be to have the mobile stroke unit in place," village manager Cara Pavlicek said. "While it hasn't been used, it has been a nice resource to have. I don't think folks should be surprised it hasn't been used. It is within our small footprint of 4.5 miles and two high-quality medical facilities in the village. We felt two years was a good option."
As part of the agreement, the village of Oak Park will not be charged by Rush when the mobile stroke unit is requested. The agreement does provide for either the village or Rush to be responsible for billing and collecting emergency medical care expenses based upon which entity accepts patient care. In no case will a patient be subject to billing from both entities, officials said.
According to the agreement, Rush's mobile stroke unit will be available to the Oak Park Fire Department for support services seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
While the mobile stroke unit is housed at Rush Oak Park Hospital, the unit operates in several jurisdictions. If it were ever unavailable, Oak Park firefighters/EMTs would follow standard operating procedures in such cases and take a patient to the nearest emergency room, officials said.