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Georgia's first mobile stroke unit is now in service

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Jennifer Johnson McEwen
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Left to right:
John Haupert, president and CEO of Grady Health System; Michael Frankel, Marcus Stroke Network Director and Professor & Director of Vascular Neurology, Emory School of Medicine; Bruce Inverso, Sr. VP, American Heart Association; Jonathan S. Lewin, Emory University Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center.

Grady Health System, Emory University School of Medicine and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Monday unveiled Georgia’s first mobile stroke unit – an ambulance designed to take cutting edge stroke care directly to patients. The mobile stroke unit is part of the recently launched Marcus Stroke Network, made possible through the generosity of The Marcus Foundation. The Marcus Stroke Network is a coordinated and collaborative effort to help reduce stroke disability and death rates in the Southeastern United States.

The mobile stroke ambulance will operate in the city of Atlanta through Grady’s renowned EMS system, linking the Network doctors directly to patients in the field by utilizing an on-board CT scanner to facilitate the earliest treatment possible.

“This is an exciting and historic moment in stroke care for the city of Atlanta,” said Bernie Marcus, founder of The Marcus Foundation. “In a situation where every second counts, this specialized ambulance allows lifesaving treatment to begin for stroke patients before they reach the hospital. This is an important addition to the Marcus Foundation’s commitment to advancing stroke care.”

The mobile stroke unit will be in operation Monday through Saturday and manned by an experienced team of medical professionals – an emergency medicine nurse, paramedic, advanced EMT and CT technologist. The team will perform a diagnostic scan, transmitting the image via telemedicine to Grady’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center. There, an Emory University School of Medicine vascular neurologist will evaluate the patient’s condition and advise the crew on next steps for patient care, which could include treatment with the clot-dissolving drug alteplase – this while the patient is en route to a stroke-ready hospital in Atlanta.

“Using a sophisticated telemedicine platform, our goal is to extend the vast experience and proven expertise of our stroke specialists to participating network hospitals, giving each and every stroke patient in the areas serviced by our network partners the best chance of survival and living an independent quality of life,” says Marcus Stroke Network director Michael Frankel, MD, professor & director of vascular neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, chief of neurology and director of Grady’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center.

The Marcus Stroke Network, endorsed by Georgia's Department of Public Health, will also provide a 24/7 call center serving as Georgia's first centralized resource for paramedics to assist with decisions about diagnosing stroke and indicating to the paramedic the location of the nearest appropriate hospital destination for treatment.

Hospitals participating in the Marcus Stroke Network will be guided by the science and expertise of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Assessing and treating stroke patients accurately and quickly is the goal of all entities involved in stroke care, and a result of the science and guidelines established by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Grady Health System

Grady Health System is one of the largest safety net health systems in the nation and includes the 953-bed Grady Memorial Hospital, five neighborhood health centers, and Crestview Health & Rehabilitation Center. With its nationally acclaimed emergency medical services, Grady has Atlanta’s premier Level I trauma center - Metro Atlanta’s only nationally verified Level 1 center - and serves as the 911 ambulance provider for the city of Atlanta. Grady’s American Burn Association/American College of Surgeons verified Burn Center is one of only two in the state. And the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center is a Joint Commission designated Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Emory University School of Medicine

Emory University School of Medicine has 2,757 full- and part-time faculty and 795 volunteer faculty. Because of Emory's extensive network of cross-disciplinary relationships, patients and physicians have direct access to leading research, and students and researchers observe real-world applications for their studies and discoveries. A national leader in advanced stroke care, Emory offers the greater Atlanta area top-rated Comprehensive and Primary Stroke Centers, certified by The Joint Commission for their state-of-the-art infrastructure, expert staff and skilled training to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes.

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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