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Patient Care

Penn. County Unveils Mobile Stroke Unit


On Thursday, May 16, the Vickie and Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience at Jefferson and the Bensalem Rescue Squad introduced during a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony a new Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) that will serve stroke patients in Bucks County. The event was hosted by leaders from Jefferson Health and Bensalem Township, who touted the unit’s unique capabilities to aid victims of stroke.

The MSU will be based in Bucks County and is the region’s first university-based, high-tech Mobile Stroke Unit. It will work with emergency medical services, Jefferson Expert Telestroke (JET) physician team, and medical command physicians in the county.

Often referred to as “a lifesaver on wheels,” the MSU is equipped with telemedicine capability, CT scanner and certified personnel—a “Brain Rescue Team”—who are trained to assess, test and treat patients in the field before they are transported to the emergency department, shaving precious minutes or hours off treatment time. Stroke kills approximately 140,000 Americans each year and is the leading cause of serious long-term disability.

“Those who have personally experienced a stroke, or know someone who has, understand how destructive the effects can be,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President, Thomas Jefferson University and CEO, Jefferson Health. “We’re extremely proud to offer such an impactful resource, which provides better patient outcomes and helps Jefferson Health continue our mission to improve and save lives throughout the region.”

“The mission of the Mobile Stroke Unit is to expedite the diagnosis and treatment of stroke,” said John Roussis, Director of the Mobile Stroke Unit, through the delivery of “clot-busting”—or thrombolytic—drugs, which must be administered within hours of when symptoms began. When a stroke occurs, 1.9 million neurons die per minute, increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.

“Our goal is to improve stroke care for every patient through telemedicine technology and collaborative partnerships with health care providers in the community,” said Maureen DePrince, RN, Senior Director, Neuroscience.

“Every minute counts,” said Robert H. Rosenwasser, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University. “Early treatment can save lives, reduce disability and improve patient outcomes, which is why we’re pleased to be able to serve this community with such a valuable resource.” 

“From an emergency medicine perspective, something like the mobile stroke unit can be a game changer,” said Gerald Wydro, Chair, Emergency Medicine at Jefferson Bucks, Frankford and Torresdale Hospitals. “Treatment within three hours of symptoms dramatically improves chances of recovery with little or no disability, so having a vehicle that’s equipped to deliver immediate treatment will make a world of difference to our patients in this community.” 

Local officials in attendance at the ceremony expressed their appreciation for the addition of the Mobile Stroke Unit to their community.

“I think this shows the incredible benefits that can occur through meaningful private-public partnerships like those between Bensalem and Jefferson Health,” said Frederick Harran, Director, Bensalem Township Police Department. “When we can make something like this happen for our residents, and help save lives, we know that all the effort to make this work was well worth it.”

“I know my team members are really pleased,” said Thomas Topley, Executive Director, Bensalem Rescue Squad. “We live in this community—these are our families and our friends, and to have this mobile stroke unit available means we can make that much more of a difference to those who experience something as devastating as a stroke.”

The MSU will serve the 68,000 residents and over one million visitors of Bensalem Township, in addition to 166,000–186,000 residents of municipalities contiguous to Bensalem Township.

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