ASTORIA – Mount Sinai Queens (MSQ) celebrated the grand opening of its state-of-the-art Cerebrovascular Stroke Center with a ribbon-cutting and reception as well as the unveiling of the sign for the new, state-of-the-art Stavros Niarchos Foundation Advanced Thrombectomy Suite at the Stroke Center on June 19.
The first of its kind in the United States, the new, fully thrombectomy-capable Stroke Center was specially designed so that diagnostic imaging and treatment can occur in the same room, on the same table, resulting in enhanced efficiency, speed and quality to directly improve patient outcomes. When it comes to stroke, “time is brain,” so cutting down the time from diagnosis to treatment really matters and will save lives. The $8.7 million center is likely to become a model of stroke care for other hospitals across the country.
Thrombectomy, the standard of care for the most devastating strokes, is a procedure that involves removing the clot and quickly restoring blood flow to the brain. In 2017, MSQ became the first hospital in the borough of Queens to perform thrombectomy by creating and deploying a mobile team of specialized stroke specialists. Prior to that time, every Queens resident who needed a thrombectomy had to be transferred outside the borough. The new Cerebrovascular Stroke Center at MSQ is now providing the community with the most high-tech, advanced stroke treatment in one location right in the borough.
MSQ Executive Director Caryn A. Schwab gave the welcoming remarks thanking all those present and noting that this year marks MSQ’s 20th anniversary providing top medical care to Astoria and western Queens. She noted that when she arrived, the building was brown brick and looked like all the other buildings in the area. Since that time, MSQ has undergone an impressive transformation with the help of the hospital’s leadership, the community’s elected officials, and the philanthropic efforts of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
“We are tremendously grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Queens delegation of the New York City Council, especially our own council member, Costa Constantinides, for their advocacy and support in the creation of this innovative Stroke Center,” said Schwab.
“The City Council provided funding for the specialized equipment, and today, we unveiled the newly named Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Advanced Thrombectomy Suite. We believe this stroke center will not only improve care in the borough of Queens, but will also provide the foundation for groundbreaking research that will enhance the knowledge of stroke care globally.”
Schwab then introduced Michael E. Minikes, Mount Sinai Health System Board of Trustees Vice Chairman and Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee. In his remarks, Minikes noted his longstanding connection to Queens and the importance of the Stroke Center for the community.
Mount Sinai Hospital and MSQ President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. David L. Reich pointed out that he was celebrating 15 years with the hospital and thanked all those who supported the effort to open the much-needed Stroke Center. He said, “Residents of Queens deserve the innovative, high-quality, timely, and patient-centered care offered by this novel center and we are proud to offer this level of care in the borough.”
“The Stroke Center is another step the hospital is taking to provide the community with critical clinical services right here in Queens,” Dr. Reich said.
Special guest at the event, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker, joined the celebration as a show of support for effective and efficient stroke care. He noted that “prevention is the key to health,” but some strokes cannot be prevented. Dr. Zucker mentioned the importance of recognizing the signs of a stroke with the acronym FAST- Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time (noting the onset of symptoms).
Dr. J Mocco, Professor and System Vice Chair in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai, and Director of the Cerebrovascular Center for the Mount Sinai Health System, who led the effort to design and implement the new stroke center at Mount Sinai Queens said, “When it comes to stroke care, time is brain. Every passing minute that blood flow to the brain is blocked, millions of neurons are lost and nearby tissue can be damaged.”
Mocco continued, “In addition to having the most advanced stroke imaging and treatment equipment that’s available today, our new Center is designed with imaging, diagnostic, and treatment capabilities in one location. By cutting down the time between when a patient presents in the emergency room and when we are able to restore blood flow to the brain, we will not only save lives but rapidly restore function so patients can continue to live their best lives.”
The MSQ Stroke Center features specially designed equipment that is unique in the United States. It contains the dual modalities of biplane angiography combined with CT, allowing diagnostic CT and the thrombectomy procedure to occur in the same room, on the same table, resulting in improved efficiency, speed, and quality. Mount Sinai stroke experts anticipate that having the best imaging, diagnostic ability and treatment options in one location, a short distance from the emergency department will dramatically cut “door to needle” time (the time from arrival at the hospital to the beginning of clot removal), from the national target of 90 minutes.
SNF Program Officer Roula Siklas said, “We know what it takes to provide quality medical care employing current best practices, and access to that care should not depend on where you happen to live. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is proud to support Mount Sinai Queens in providing such care to stroke patients in Queens. This project is a testament to Mount Sinai’s vision along the axes of two very different timescales: the seconds that count in cases of stroke and the years and decades over which the Mount Sinai Queens Stroke Center will improve health outcomes. And through the research that takes place here, those benefits will extend far beyond the bounds of the borough.”
New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides declared that, “Western Queens deserves a state-of-the-art stroke center, so that those in a medical emergency don’t have to cross a bridge to get quality care. The Queens Delegation and I fought so hard to ensure Mount Sinai Queens got that facility, because it was crucial to the health of the borough. I am so excited to see this amazing community partner provide the necessary, high-caliber service our citizens deserve.”
Constantinides highlighted the tremendous need for the center as he spoke movingly about his father who had a stroke in 2004. Although he lived across the street from the hospital the staff at that time was unable to save him. “It’s more than access to care,” he pointed out, noting that the MSQ Stroke Center and its staff give families their loved ones back. “It’s a gift of life…and we will continue to stand with you as you do this amazing work,” Constantinides concluded.