A $15 million donation from Bernie Marcus’ Marcus Foundation has enabled the creation of the Marcus Stroke Network, a collaboration among Grady Health System, Emory University School of Medicine, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“This aggressive, action-focused program is a unique decision support system driven by technology, real-time outcomes, and scalable solutions,” said neurologist Michael Frankel, who becomes director of the Marcus Stroke Network. He already leads Grady’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center, also established and as recently as last year expanded through grants from the Buckhead-based Marcus Foundation.

The network targets stroke disability and death rates in the Southeast by working with hospitals in Atlanta and Boca Raton, the two cities where Marcus spends most of his time.

Among the network’s goals:

  • Extend the reach of the stroke expertise of the doctors in the network through telemedicine technology to accelerate early and definitive stroke treatment.
  • Establish the region’s first Mobile Stroke Unit, a specialized ambulance equipped with a CT scanner so that lifesaving treatment for stroke patients can begin before they reach the hospital.
  • Upgrade acute stroke care by initiating a direct “ambulance to angiography” approach.
  • Enhance the quality of care at network hospitals and ensure long-term sustainability through a coordinated system of stroke care.

Frankel said vascular neurologists and other medical professionals at Emory and Grady will provide real-time guidance to emergency doctors at remote sites, helping diagnose strokes and recommending treatments.

“Our goal is to extend the vast experience and proven expertise of our stroke specialists to participating network hospitals, giving each and every stroke patient in the areas serviced by our network partners the best chance of survival and living an independent quality of life,” he said.

A major focus of the Marcus Stroke Network is providing timely, accurate and evidence-based care to stroke patients. This approach will be guided by the science and expertise of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

“One of our important quality measures for partners recruited to participate in the Marcus Stroke Network will be working to achieve the highest levels of patient care in our Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program, ensuring consistent adherence to the latest scientific treatment guidelines,” said Dianne Foster, the American Heart Association’s Greater Southeast Affiliate vice president for quality and systems improvement.

“We know that every second counts after a stroke and the mantra ‘time is brain’ is critically accurate. This innovative and collaborative effort will help expedite treatment for the people of this region and ultimately lead to lives saved,” said John Haupert, the president and CEO of Grady Health System.