June 9, 2023 — As part of a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, UF Health Shands Hospital providers and UF College of Medicine faculty are an elite group of health professionals focused on quality stroke care.
Anna Khanna, M.D., who serves as the medical director of the UF Health Shands Comprehensive Stroke Center and an assistant professor of neurology in the UF College of Medicine, said the importance of stroke care is rooted in its position as the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of long-term disability.
With these high stakes in mind and a committed provider workforce, UF Health will roll out its first mobile stroke treatment unit in July, enabling patients to receive immediate stroke care, even before they can be transported to a treatment center. The initiative, which came to fruition with involvement from Khanna and Brian Hoh, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the Lillian S. Wells Department of Neurosurgery, was announced June 5 in an event outside of the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building.
“Early treatment directly translates to decreased mortality, to saving lives and improving outcomes and decreasing disabilities,” Khanna said. “Our mission at the UF Health Shands Comprehensive Stroke Center is to reduce the burden and disability of stroke, and this is why the idea to develop this unit came to fruition. We know from other mobile stroke unit programs across the nation that each minute counts, and we know that treating stroke within 60 minutes — within that golden hour of care — not only saves lives, but it also brings people back to their community and their families.”
UF Health’s mobile stroke units will include a diagnostic CT scanner, clot-busting drugs such as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, medications given intravenously to lower high blood pressure, medications used to reverse the effects of bleeding inside the brain and telemedicine equipment. Ambulances will be staffed by a team that includes a stroke-trained health provider, a CT technologist, an EMT driver and a paramedic, as well as a neurologist specializing in stroke care, who will be available via telemedicine.
When 911 is contacted and a stroke is suspected, emergency medical services and the mobile stroke unit will both be dispatched. By deploying to the patient, the stroke team can begin treatment while in transit to the nearest available stroke center, saving critical moments to reduce long-term disability.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to enhance our patient care efforts,” Hoh said. “The mobile stroke treatment unit allows us to bring stroke care to the patient and save precious time in our efforts to preserve brain function.”