By hosting a highly specialized Mobile Stroke Unit, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center has joined a handful of medical centers nationwide in helping to take emergency care directly to stroke patients. This makes Long Beach one of the few cities on the West Coast where this life-saving care is now available within the community.

A stroke can either be caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

When blood flow is cut off to the brain, brain tissue is starved for oxygen and parts of the brain die. Nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death.

“The longer the time delay between when a stroke starts and when treatment is initiated, the more likely it is for crucial brain function to be permanently lost,” says May Nour, M.D., interventional neuroradiologist, Long Beach Medical Center and UCLA Health. “It’s critical that the person experiencing symptoms receives immediate medical intervention, and through the Mobile Stroke Unit, we’re able to provide this.”

The high-tech specialty Mobile Stroke Unit was launched by UCLA Health and funded by the Arlene and Henry Gluck Foundation and the County of Los Angeles. It is staffed by a specialty care team comprised of a stroke neurologist, critical care transport nurse, CT technician and paramedic. When an individual calls 911 for a potential stroke, the Mobile Stroke Unit is dispatched to the scene alongside another 911 Emergency Response Unit. On-scene, both units assess the patient and if they’re having a stroke they will be placed inside the Mobile Stroke Unit.

The on-scene stroke neurologist further assesses the patient to determine the severity of the stroke. During this time, lab tests and an imaging scan are completed. The results from the lab tests, CT scan and patient evaluation will be documented in the patient’s electronic medical record, which is immediately viewable by the on-scene stroke neurologist over the secure wireless network in the Mobile Stroke Unit.

“Based on the assessment, we can use the information to determine the type of stroke the patient is having,” says Dr. Nour. “If the patient is having an ischemic stroke, we can immediately administer a clot-busting medication to restore blood flow to the brain. If the patient is having a hemorrhagic stroke, we are able to administer blood pressure lowering medications aimed controlling the size of the hematoma and hemorrhage reversal agents to correct for coagulopathies.”

After the treatment has been given in the Mobile Stroke Unit, the team will transport the patient to the nearest approved stroke center for further care. For people living in Long Beach and the South Bay, that’s Long Beach Medical Center.

As the 3rd Joint Commission Certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers in LA County, Long Beach Medical Center’s highly trained stroke team is equipped to treat the most complex stroke cases focusing on fast response times and positive outcomes.

Its Division of Interventional Neuroradiology provides a comprehensive center for the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of the central nervous system and peripheral vascular malformations and abnormalities.