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Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit brings care to you

DENVER -- When someone has a stroke, time is of the essence. Now a specialized ambulance can respond with everything needed to diagnose, and treat a stroke on site, right in your driveway.

Just a few cities across the country have these units. UCHealth has one Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit that splits time between the hospital in Aurora and one in Colorado Springs.

It has CT scanner to check the brain, clot busing drugs, and a communication system that allows doctors to virtually see the patient. Plus there are four crew members including a CT technologist and a nurse who specializes in stroke.

Linda Richardson saw the mobile stroke unit and the crew in action when her mother had a stroke. “I tried to wake her up to say goodbye, and I noticed that she wasn`t able to sit up, and she kept rolling around and mumbling, and so when I saw that she wasn`t able to talk, I thought maybe it was a stroke,” Richardson said.

She called 911 and the mobile stroke unit responded. “It just seemed like there was a hospital right on my street,” she said. Linda’s mother got the medication on site, cutting time.

“Treating people with an acute stroke, time is of the essence,” said Dr. William Jones, medical director of the stroke program at University of Colorado Hospital. He says a few minutes can make all the difference. “We are significantly impacting patients recovery and outcome from their stroke,” Dr. Jones said.

The UCHealth Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit is the third in the country, and the fifth in the world to operate. It’s involved in a national study to check outcomes and cost effectiveness.

Linda is grateful her mother could benefit. “It’s pretty amazing she said.”

Doctors hope everyone will know the signs of stroke. Those include facial weakness or droopiness, arm weakness and speech problems.

If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.