College stroke research project speeds up life-saving treatment

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From left, Rohan Arora, MBBS; Erin Hollis; Anisha Chaudhry and Dr. Raj K. Narayan (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Five college students participated in Northwell Health’s summer stroke research program – in collaboration with The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell – which could result in speeding up the delivery of possible life-saving stroke treatment throughout the health system.

Their research project, “A Pilot Study to Increase Pre-Hospital Notification by Emergency Medical Services for Stroke Patients,” found that if emergency medical services pre-notified the hospital’s emergency department about a stroke patient, the clot-busting drug – tissue plasminogen activator, tPA – could be administered at least 12 minutes earlier. This is a critically important finding as with every minute, two million brain cells are saved.

“The students learn the basics of stroke treatment, attend weekly neurovascular stroke conferences, as well as clinical stroke rounds at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset,” said Rohan Arora, MBBS, director of stroke at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills and director of the summer stroke research program. “The students select a research project that is expected to culminate in a poster presentation at the Feinstein Institute. But this latest project will be incorporated into how we treat stroke patients, which is a significant contribution.”

For this pilot study, the summer interns interviewed several emergency medical technicians and paramedics at the emergency departments of North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Students gathered information based on these interviews and created an EMS feedback poster and an EMS education flyer to motivate EMS to provide pre-hospital notification for stroke patients, which would lead to improved stroke outcomes. Michele Gribko, RN, ACNS-BC, director of quality for Northwell Health’s neuroscience service line and Tammy Haber, MHA, PA-C, supervising physician assistant, guided the students through the project.

“I had a very enriching experience in this program,” said intern Anisha Chaudhry, 20, from Woodbury, NY, and a senior at Hofstra University. “As a pre-medical student, I often don’t get to see how many roles intersect in making great medical care possible. This program allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how stroke patient outcome is affected by actions as early as EMS pick-up.”

Erin Hollis, 21, from Garden City, NY, and a senior at the University of Richmond, found the program equally as rewarding. “It was a wonderful opportunity in which the work I did may have a very positive, direct impact on stroke patients,” said Ms. Hollis. “We hope to see the rate of pre-hospital notification notably increase within these coming months. I am excited to see how our project ends up expediting the care and treatment process of stroke patients.”

The program, which began in 2014, runs from May through September and encourages high school and college students who are interested in the medical field, in particular vascular neurology (stroke), to progress to the next step such as preparing for medical school and participate in stroke-related research projects. In addition, the program encourages foreign medical physicians to enhance their career in vascular neurology.

To learn more about the summer stroke research program,
e-mail research assistant for the stroke program at LIJ Forest Hills, Dr. Hazra, at AHazra@northwell.edu.

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