L.A. County funds mobile stroke unit pilot program
Proven acute stroke therapies can be started 30-60 minutes faster, and patient outcomes substantially improved
Supervisor Hahn champions special ambulance with portable CT scanner and clot-busting drugs; UCLA Health to run first-in-California mobile stroke unit
LOS ANGELES —The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted recently to pass a motion authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn to fund a mobile stroke unit pilot program in L.A. County.
A mobile stroke unit is a type of ambulance equipped with a portable CT scanner and clot-busting drugs which allow doctors to diagnose and treat strokes in the field. By restoring blood flow to the brain before a patient arrives at the hospital, mobile stroke units can save lives and prevent long-term brain damage and disability associated with strokes.
“Minutes matter when it comes to treating strokes,” said Supervisor Hahn. “With a mobile stroke unit operating in L.A. County, doctors will be able to diagnose and treat stroke patients faster than ever before — making it more likely that they not only survive but go on to live longer healthier lives.”
The Board passed the motion during budget deliberations. The news is a victory for Hahn who has been determined to bring a mobile stroke unit to L.A. County since taking office. While there are 14 mobile stroke units operating with positive results in states across the country, no mobile stroke unit is yet operating in the State of California. This will be the first mobile stroke unit in the nation supported by a public-private partnership. All others have been philanthropically funded.
The motion passed will direct $1.46 million to expand a proposed mobile stroke unit pilot program to be run by UCLA Health. The funding will come from Measure B, a parcel tax funding source dedicated to supporting emergency and trauma services.
“Rapid response is critical because the sooner a stroke is treated, the better the patient’s outcome,” said Dr. May Nour of UCLA, who testified at the budget meeting. “We know from research at UCLA that in a typical stroke, every minute that goes by without treatment, 2 million brain cells die.”
UCLA’s Mobile Stroke Unit called the Gluck Stroke Rescue Program will begin its pilot program in the coming months. Because it is still in trial stages, the unit was set to run every other week in Westwood with off-weeks serving as a control group. However, with this funding from the County, for the weeks the unit is not operating in Westwood it will be operating in another area of Los Angeles, allowing it to treat more patients and compile more data for the study.
“Definitive treatments for acute stroke can only be started after a head CT is done and shows the type of stroke suffered,” continued Nour. “Together, we can bring the hospital to the patient, instead of the patient to the hospital. In doing so, proven therapies can be started 30-60 minutes faster, and patient outcomes substantially improved.”