Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
05:00 PM

LVHN and Cetronia Ambulance Corps Partner to Provide Pennsylvania's First Mobile Stroke Care

New mobile stroke unit will start treatment faster

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and Cetronia Ambulance Corps announced today they will jointly operate a new mobile stroke unit, the first in Pennsylvania. The mobile stroke unit will begin evaluation and treatment sooner, potentially preventing damage to the brain while the patient is transported to a stroke-certified facility like Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

“Mobile stroke care could improve intervention time by up to 20 to 30 minutes, which could have a significant impact on the outcome for the patient,” says neurologist Yevgeniy Isayev, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at LVH–Cedar Crest. The Stroke Center was certified in 2012 by The Joint Commission as the first Comprehensive Stroke Center in Pennsylvania, the highest level of certification. LVHN’s Comprehensive Stroke Center cares for more than 1,500 stroke patients annually.

Saving time is the idea behind the new mobile stroke unit that is expected to become operational in mid-April. The mobile stroke ambulance will bring the highest level of diagnostic equipment, stroke treatments and specially educated crew right to the patient, allowing care to begin immediately instead of waiting to reach a hospital. Both LVHN and Cetronia will provide the clinical staff including EMTs and Paramedics from Cetronia. LVHN also is providing neurological support from expert neurologic physicians who are available to provide assessment and treatment orders.

Isayev said the mobile stroke unit will be equipped with computed tomography (CT) and video and telehealth technology to help caregivers determine what type of stroke the patient is experiencing and begin treatment before arriving at the hospital. Isayev said the unit equips qualified first responders with clot-busting and blood-thickening medications they can administer to the patient enroute to a stroke center rather than waiting until the patient arrives to begin treatment.

The unit will be stationed at Cetronia headquarters in Allentown and its in-house emergency communications center will manage deployment of the unit to ensure it reaches as many stroke patients as possible.

“Cetronia is proud to partner with Lehigh Valley Health Network on this latest innovation in rapid response care for stroke victims,” said Larry Wiersch, CEO, Cetronia Ambulance Corps. “As a leader in emergency medical services, we see this as yet another meaningful opportunity to advance the quality of pre-hospital care for families in our community.”

Wiersch said stroke is one of the most devastating illnesses that a patient can experience. “My own father, a healthy retiree with no prior medical issues, suffered a devastating stroke that contributed to his premature death. That was before we had access to the advanced technology and onsite care made possible with this new mobile stroke unit. Our fervent hope is that this team effort between two proven leaders in community health will accelerate the critical treatment time for stroke and change the outcomes for countless future patients and their families.”

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted by either a blood clot that blocks a vital blood vessel supplying the brain (ischemic stroke) or a burst vessel that spills blood into surrounding tissues (hemorrhagic stroke). “Almost two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke,” Isayev says. “Timing of care is one of the most important factors in recovery.”

The mobile stroke unit also will assess if a patient has contraindications to clot-busting medication or whether a stroke involves a major artery blockage that may be too massive for medication to treat effectively – a determination normally made only after arrival at a hospital. The crew could rush such victims to the Comprehensive Stroke Center – where equipment and expertise to perform a specialized endovascular procedure that uses a number of catheter-based therapies to capture and remove brain-threatening blood clots is available 24/7.

“Stroke experts have a saying: Time is brain. “Every minute that you save in caring for a stroke results in better outcomes,” says Claranne Mathiesen, RN, Director Medical Operations, Neurosciences Service Line at LVHN. “If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911. That call will dispatch local EMS and if indicated, the mobile stroke unit, and starts the clock ticking in our goal to save brain.”

Cetronia Ambulance Corps

In continuous service since 1955, Cetronia Ambulance Corps provides emergency and non-emergency medical services--as well as community education and outreach--to individuals, families, institutions, businesses and corporate neighbors throughout the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas. Cetronia’s communications center provides 911 emergency service to nine municipalities. Cetronia’s fleet of 42 vehicles travels more than one million miles annually, responding to more than 20,000 emergencies and more than 60,000 requests for medical care and transportation every year. Cetronia Ambulance Corps is located at 4300 Broadway in South Whitehall Township and at www.cetronia.org.

About LVHN

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses - three in Allentown including the region's only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; 26 health centers caring for communities in seven counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices and 18 ExpressCARE locations throughout the region including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE at the Health Center at Palmer Township; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; extensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region’s busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, orthopedics, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute and the Lehigh Valley Institute for Special Surgery give clinicians of the highest caliber the necessary infrastructure, programs and partnerships to help community members stay healthy and provide the most advanced treatment when needed. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a formal member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, a transformative initiative to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community health care settings, including access to key MSK clinical trials. Robotic surgery is offered in ten specialties across the health network with more than 10,000 procedures performed since 2007. Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital and Level 4 NICU in the region, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest has been recognized among the top five hospitals in Pennsylvania by U.S. News & World Report for for five consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are national Magnet hospitals for excellence in nursing. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook and Twitter.