New study reveals importance of mobile stroke units, especially in Memphis

MEMPHIS, TENN. — A new study reveals the importance of mobile stroke units, especially in Memphis where doctors are treating a number of stroke patients during the pandemic.

Right now, the mobile stroke unit is stationed at fire station 14 in South Memphis. Unfortunately, it has been out of service since March of last year, partially because of lack of funding.

“Being out of service now is detrimental to the community,” said Dr. Anne Alexandrov, a professor in the college and nursing at UT Health Science Center.

Memphis is one of the few cities in the nation that has a Mobile Stroke Unit or MSU. Dr. Alexandrov said what makes it so special is that it’s the most sophisticated stroke unit in operation worldwide.

“We’re able to do very advanced CT scanning on board instead of just basic CT scanning.”

But lack of funding to pay paramedics, drivers and CT technologists are making it impossible to keep treating patients who depend on the MSU.

Dr. Alexandrov is one of the world’s leading stroke researchers working every day to get the unit back in operation.

“We are not being reimbursed like the mobile stroke unit by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. They pay us like we are no different than any other ambulance that’s in service and we have to cover four salaries on board,” Dr. Alexandrov said.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, including Dr. Alexandrov participated in a multisite study that revealed early intervention by mobile stroke units gives stroke patients better results.

“Most of this is due to the fact that mobile stroke units are able to treat you so much faster than treatment within a hospital because we don’t have to wait to register you. We just get you on board through your assessment, through your CT scans,” Dr. Alexandrov said.

Dr. Alexandrov told FOX13 this unit is needed now more than ever before because COVID seems to increase vascular disease.

FOX13 asked Dr. Alexandrov: “What happens next if you don’t get funding?”

“What we’re hoping we can do is partner with hospitals where as they would see us as an extension of their emergency department and that in return would allow us to go back into operation because they could then bill for our services appropriately,” said Alexandrov.

Alexandrov said she’s hoping to get this unit back in service this year so that it can continue to save lives.