Press Releases

UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit Celebrates Third Anniversary

Aug. 17, 2023

Cincinnati, OH – UC Health, Greater Cincinnati’s academic health system, is celebrating three years of bringing the region’s most advanced stroke care directly to those who need it most.

The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit – the region’s first and only mobile stroke unit – has provided advanced, subspecialty emergency stroke care to nearly 450 patients since its first day of operation on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

“Millions of brain cells die every minute that stroke treatment is delayed, but mobile stroke units can provide treatment 20 to 30 minutes faster than in an emergency department. In the case of stroke, moments matter. Our goal is to reduce the amount of time between the onset of stroke-like symptoms and the delivery of clot-busting medication, and we are proud to have helped so many patients and families over the past three years,” said Joseph Broderick, MD, director of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute and Professor of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine at the UC College of Medicine.

“For more than 30 years, the stroke team at UC Health has been at the forefront of stroke care. Our system was the first in Greater Cincinnati to receive a comprehensive stroke certification from the Joint Commission. The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit exemplifies our dedication to innovation in stroke care and emergency medicine, with the goal of saving and improving lives,” Broderick said.

A Mobile Stroke Unit is designed specifically to evaluate and treat patients with a possible stroke, and it combines the services and treatments available in an emergency department (ED) and an ambulance to provide hospital-level care at the scene of the emergency.

The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit is based at the Springfield Township Fire Department located at 9150 Winton Road and responds within a radius of approximately 15 minutes from the fire station.

“The advanced and cutting-edge science of the MSU has improved the level of care provided, and saved many of our residents that would have otherwise had serious outcomes from a stroke,” said Springfield Township Fire Department Capt. Kevin Richards.

When a possible stroke is reported to 911, the UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit is dispatched right alongside the local EMS department. A highly-trained team of four clinicians – a UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care paramedic, EMT and a critical care registered nurse, and a UC Health CT technician – staff the unit, and a UC Health Stroke Team physician consults with the team via telemedicine.

This team can quickly assess the patient and provide treatment if necessary. The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit is equipped with advanced diagnostic technology, including a mobile CT scanner, and interventional treatments such as and the clot-busting medications tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) and TNK (Tenecteplase).

tPA is the only FDA-approved medical treatment for ischemic or thrombotic stroke, and it was developed by the experts at UC Health’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, part of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute. TNK is a newer, faster treatment for stroke that UC Health began providing in fall 2022.

Currently, the average stroke patient in Greater Cincinnati does not receive clot-busting medication until about 45 or 60 minutes after arriving at a hospital, where a CT scan and other pre-treatment assessments are first performed. By bringing the advanced skills of the emergency department and the stroke team directly to the patient, the stroke experts at UC Health hope to reduce that time significantly and improve patients’ chances for a full recovery.

“The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit was the first of its kind in Southwest Ohio and is a tremendous resource for our community. We are able to bring the emergency department to the curbside in order to diagnose and treat a stroke as quickly and safely as possible,” said Christopher T. Richards, MD, medical director of the mobile stroke unit and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the UC College of Medicine.

UC Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit also offers patients access to the health system’s vast network of clinical trials for stroke care. This includes the FASTEST study, which examines the effectiveness of a drug to help “plug the leak” of bleeding in the brain from intracerebral hemorrhage.

The UC Health Mobile Stroke Unit is a partnership between the UC Department of Emergency Medicine, UC Health Air Care & Mobile Care, and the UC Comprehensive Stroke Center. The center pioneered tPA as well as the F.A.S.T. method for diagnosing stroke, and serves as the national coordinating center for the National Institutes of Health “StrokeNet” program to advance stroke research.