Our guest today was Mehr Mohajer-Esfahani and his crew from the Northwestern Medicine Mobile Strike Unit.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Multiple research studies have determined that early intervention has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes. Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) located in Winfield, IL, in partnership with their local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies, has implemented a state-of-the-art Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) to bring stroke care directly to the field for potential stroke patients. This Mobile Stroke Unit is the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of the first in the world.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is a specialized ambulance equipped with tools and staff normally only found inside a hospital. The specialized equipment and staff on the MSU allows the team to quickly diagnose a stroke on-site, and by coordinating electronically with a Northwestern Medicine neurologist, immediately begin treatment.

The NM Central DuPage Hospital Mobile Stroke Unit is equipped with a specialized X-ray machine (CT Scanner) to take detailed pictures of the brain, and a direct telemedicine connection to Northwestern Medicine neurologists. The telemedicine equipment allows the MSU team to directly communicate with the neurologist, who can direct care while the team is en route to the hospital. If the neurologist determines that the patient is experiencing an ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain), the physician may advise the MSU team to administer tissue plasminogen activator – a clot-busting medication used to treat a stroke. In the case of the hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a blood vessel rupture in the brain), a clotting agent may be recommended and administered. This early intervention can lead to better outcomes, as stroke patients are typically not administered medication until their arrival at the hospital.

In addition to the neurologist, the dedicated MSU Stroke Care Team is comprised of a critical care nurse, a CT technician, an EMT technician driver, and a critical care paramedic. Many of the MSU employees are job sharing, meaning that they hold other positions at Central DuPage Hospital in addition to their positions with the MSU. Some of the crew members also work at local fire departments.