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Critical Care Across the County

Four medical professionals and a formally dressed couple all wear masks while posing in front of UCLA’s Mobile Stroke Unit at a fire station.
A gift from Mark and Laura Wittcoff (far right) will support the Arline & Henry Gluck Stroke Rescue Program and its Mobile Stroke Unit team. (Photo credit: Megan Witt)

Early stroke diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between recovery and disability or even death. During the pandemic, it’s even more important, as COVID-19’s clotting effects can contribute to stroke incidence, a dangerous prospect for residents at greater risk living in communities far from stroke centers.

Three years into operation, the UCLA Arline and Henry Gluck Stroke Rescue Program is answering the call. Its mobile stroke unit now works with six fire departments serving 23 cities in Los Angeles County’s western, southern, and South Bay regions. Staffed by a vascular neurologist, critical care nurse, paramedic, and CT technologist, the specialized ambulance enables earlier scanning and initial treatment while transporting stroke patients to the most appropriate hospital.

Past Inspiration for Future Innovation

Philanthropy helped launch the program in 2017 and remains vital to its continuing growth. Supporters Mark and Laura Wittcoff recently established the Marjorie Scherck and Raymond Wittcoff Nursing Fellowship in Stroke Care Innovation. Named for Laura’s grandmother and Mark’s father, who championed nursing at a St. Louis hospital they supported, the fellowship will help keep the program staffed with qualified, compassionate nurses as UCLA seeks to expand.

“Mobile stroke units have changed the paradigm of pre-hospital stroke care by providing patients conclusive imaging-based diagnoses, initiating hyperacute treatment and allowing for precise routing to the most appropriate level of stroke care,” said Dr. May Nour, the program’s medical director. “We are sincerely grateful for the Wittcoffs’ generous gift in support of clinical nursing in the Arline and Henry Gluck Mobile Stroke Rescue Program. Their commitment to expanding our program and its network of support has been invaluable.”

Following Their Lead

The Wittcoffs’ investment goes far beyond funding. They serve as co-chairs of the Gluck Stroke Rescue Program’s Council of Advocates, which is engaging diverse leaders from the communities served to be ambassadors for the program. The couple attributes their leadership to the example and encouragement of the program’s eponymous donors.

“We consider it a responsibility to raise much more than we give,” says Mark Wittcoff. “What better way to honor and continue Henry and Arline’s inspiring work than by ensuring that this life-saving program grows and lasts into the future.”

To learn more, contact

Ellen Haddigan-Durgun310-321-8366

Published December 2020

More Stories: COVID-19, David Geffen School of Medicine / Health Sciences, Health & behavior, UCLA & community