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Just Weeks After Deployment, Mobile Stroke Unit Saving Lives On Long Island

OAKDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - A mobile stroke unit on Long Island was last month hailed as a game changer, and it's already saving lives. It has the ability to diagnose and even treat a stroke in progress.

CBSN New York's Carolyn Gusoff explains one patient's stroke was stopped right in front of his house.

While driving on Mother's Day, Bill Rothmeier was feeling off.

"I was trying to talk, and I was talking gibberish," Rothmeier said.

"911 said have him repeat 'Every good boy does well.' And he was 'blah blah blah,' and he couldn't smile," Rothmeier's wife Eileen said.

They suspected he was having a stroke, but didn't know that seconds mattered.

911 dispatched Stony Brook University Hospital's new mobile stroke unit to his Oakdale home, a first on Long Island. Within moments, they diagnosed two blockages in his brain.

"A patient like that, he would have lost his speech function," said Dr. David Fiorella of Stony Brook University Hospital. "Their entire life is changed and sometimes they don't survive."

But instead, Rothmeier is now fully recovered and thanking the EMTs who drove right up to his house and saved his life.

"I can actually talk to you guys," he said.

They were able to transmit CAT scans directly to Stony Brook doctors to diagnose the type of stroke and treatment needed. Clot-busting IV drugs were administered en route and a there was a fast track to surgery, Gusoff reported.

"The doctor told me in my kitchen he needs to come here and this is the plan," Eileen said.

"When given this early, oftentimes by the time they get to the hospital, to Stony Brook, that clot is already dissolved and is gone," a physician told Gusoff. "To open up all his blood vessels is a miracle."

His stroke was stopped in its tracks.

"You guys are making a difference," Rothmeier said.

Two of the $1 million units are position right off the Long Island Expressway for maximum time efficiency, located within 10 miles of 40 communities.

"I think it's a great thing, we need more of them to help other people. I cant be the only lucky dog," Rothmeier said.

"I have my husband, he has his grandchildren, his children," Eileen said. "Everybody needs these in the country, the whole country, because it will save lives."

Their goal is for Suffolk County to have the lowest mortality rate for stroke in the nation, and serve as an example.

In just six weeks, the units have already been dispatched 70 times and saved two lives. A third unit is planned for the Riverhead area.


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