Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit

The First Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit on the East Coast

If you or a loved one suffers a stroke, time is of the essence. The sooner you receive lifesaving care, the less likely you are to experience death of brain tissue and the better chance you'll have of achieving a successful outcome. NewYork-Presbyterian — in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, and the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) — has launched the first Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit (MSTU) on the East Coast. The unit is deployed via the FDNY through New York City's 911 system.

The MSTU emergency vehicle is designed to provide immediate, specialized care to people who may be having a stroke — bringing NewYork-Presbyterian's advanced technologies, expert staff, and lifesaving stroke treatment to more people in need. The unit features:

  • Experts on Board: Staffed by a highly specialized team of two paramedics from the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City (REMAC), a computed tomography (CT) technologist, and an RN specially trained for stroke care, the MSTU will greatly reduce the time from the onset of symptoms to the delivery of care — a crucial factor in improving stroke outcomes. The crew connects with a board-certified neurologist who performs a telemedicine consult remotely from one of our hospital locations. The patient and crew are able to see, hear and interact with the neurologist through on-board monitors and microphones.
  • Advanced Technologies at the Ready: The MSTU is complete with a portable CT scanner that can image a patient’s brain on the spot to determine the type of stroke the person may be having. The CT scan is then wirelessly transmitted to NewYork-Presbyterian, where a neuroradiologist evaluates it in real-time to make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Effective Treatments, Fast and Available: The unit also contains equipment and medications to treat strokes, including tPA — a medication that works by dissolving a blood clot and improving the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the affected part of the brain. On occasion, the on-board CT scanner will demonstrate intracranial hemorrhage, which cannot be treated with tPA. In these instances, the MSTU can benefit the patient by offering earlier neurological consultation and advanced blood pressure management with intravenous medications with the aim of stopping the bleeding. Additionally, such information can be used, with approval of FDNY online medical control, to triage a patient to the closest hospital with the necessary neurosurgical team required to treat intracranial hemorrhages. We are planning to develop a number of other novel therapies for the future treatment of stroke in the field.
  • Ready to Serve: The MSTU is deployed into the communities around NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center at East 68th Street and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center at West 168th Street, and recently units have been deployed in both Brooklyn at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital at 506 Sixth St., and Queens at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens at 56-45 Main St.
  • Measuring Success: To determine the MSTU’s success, we will gather and analyze valuable data by following up with each patient after admission to the hospital. Our research will include patient outcomes at 90 days; the percentage of patients treated on the MSTU who made a full recovery compared with those delivered by standard EMS transport; and the overall cost of care. We also will work with similar units throughout the United States to combine data for a larger analysis.

Our Team

Natalie Cheng, MD, received her undergraduate degrees from UC Berkeley in Molecular & Cell Biology (Neurobiology emphasis) and Psychology. She obtained her medical degree at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Cheng completed her neurology training at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and was chief resident during her fourth year. This was followed by a clinical fellowship in vascular neurology at UC San Francisco Medical Center, and a one-year NIH StrokeNet-funded research fellowship. She is currently the Stroke Director and the Site Director for the Brooklyn Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.

Sammy Pishanidar, MD, received his undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular & Cell Biology from SUNY-Binghamton. He obtained his medical degree at St. George’s University and was a part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholar Program at Northumbria University in England. He completed his neurology training at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine at North Shore-LIJ and was chief resident during his fourth year. This was followed by a clinical fellowship in vascular neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Currently, Dr. Pishanidar is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and an attending neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. He is the Site Director for the Queens Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens.

Saad Abdul Sami Mir, MD, is an Assistant Professor in Clinical Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine and Assistant Attending Neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He received his B.A. from Duke University and M.D. from University of Florida College of Medicine where he was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha and the Gold Humanism Society. He was chosen as a Doris Duke Clinical Research Scholar, which he completed at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Mir completed his internship at Massachusetts’s General Hospital, neurology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and vascular neurology fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Mir is board certified in Neurology and Psychiatry and is an expert in vascular and inpatient neurology. He is a LEAD Fellow at New York Presbyterian Hospital where he will focus on becoming a leader in patient experience and patient reported outcomes. He is the Site Director for the Manhattan Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit at NYP/Weill Cornell.

Dr. Joshua Willey is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Assistant Attending Neurologist on the Stroke Service at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Willey received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1999 and his medical degree from Columbia University in 2003. After a Neurology Residency at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, he completed a two-year neuro-epidemiology and stroke fellowship at NYP/Columbia, and also earned an MS in epidemiology. He joined the faculty of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2009. He is the neurology residency associate program director. Dr. Willey has an outpatient clinical practice in neurology with a focus on cerebrovascular diseases and stroke, and attends on the inpatient stroke service. He is the Site Director for the Manhattan Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit at NYP/Columbia.

To Find a Doctor


Matthew E. Fink, MD

Neurologist-in-chief, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center