According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 90 percent of sudden cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital setting result in death. Over nearly a decade, Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) has introduced a variety of heart care initiatives and advances throughout the community and within the Hospital, in an effort to ensure quality and timely care for heart patients, close to home.
In 2007, the Health Systems made a $300,000 investment in the community’s health by purchasing and providing Licking County’s EMS vehicles with 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) systems and cardiac monitoring devices. This equipment unifies Licking County’s 18 emergency medical departments under a single system for recording and transmitting EKG information directly to Licking Memorial Hospital’s (LMH) Emergency Department (ED). LMHS spent $50,000 to update the equipment in 2009, and more than $600,000 for a more extensive upgrade in 2014.
Immediately after Licking County emergency medical technicians arrive to assist an individual who may be having a life-threatening heart attack, they can send an EKG to provide detailed information about the patient’s heart functions to the ED team at LMH. The ED staff instantly receives an alert that an EKG is being transmitted, and the ED physician begins to brief a medical team on the patient’s plan of care based on the EKG’s data. The EKG transmission from EMS technicians allows the ED team to evaluate the patient’s heart functions while the patient is still en route to the Hospital. This process significantly decreases the time lapsed from incident to care, ultimately saving heart muscle.
For patients experiencing a heart attack, emergency angioplasty restores blood flow to the heart muscle by re-opening blocked or clogged arteries. This procedure can help reduce damage to the heart muscle, and provides the best results when performed quickly after arriving in the ED. According to guidelines set by the AHA and the American College of Cardiology, patients’ risk of death can be reduced by 40 percent if they receive balloon angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at a hospital. Consistently beating the national standard, LMH currently holds a 100% rate of procedure performance within 59 minutes of arrival.
Interventional Cardiologist Hassan Rajjoub, M.D., explained, “If the EKG indicates that the patient’s coronary artery is blocked, an alert is called, and the STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) team begins to prepare for balloon angioplasty prior to the patient’s arrival to the ED. This process allows us to expedite the patient’s care and provide optimal outcomes. Any time that can be reduced from the overall ‘door-to-balloon’ time, even as little as one minute, potentially is saving heart muscle and preserving our patients’ quality of life.”
LMH’s high quality of patient care continues after a cardiac event with the Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Staff members work with each individual patient to create customized cardiac rehabilitation goals. Such goal plans may include nutritional counseling, supervised wellness and exercise sessions, which help the heart patient to understand the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices.
The LMH Heart Failure Clinic offers a full spectrum of services to patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), which helps them avoid crises that would require hospitalizations. Patients are provided with a customized plan of care, education, and personal care tools to manage their illness, without the inconvenience of traveling to a larger city.
In 2015, the AHA awarded LMH the Mission: Lifeline Gold Level Recognition Award for exceptional care of heart attack patients. In addition, LMH received the Platinum Performance Achievement Award through the American College of Cardiology – National Cardiovascular Data Registry for sustaining performance measure scores of 90 percent or more in the treatment of heart attack patients.
LMH is an accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention). This designation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC) is reserved for hospitals that have a more advanced level of expertise in caring for heart attack patients with high-tech interventional procedures. To achieve SCPC accreditation, LMH participated in a rigorous evaluation of its ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients who may be having a heart attack.
The Chest Pain Center accreditation is significant because it emphasizes LMH’s prompt, aggressive and accurate response to each patients’ symptoms. LMH is among fewer than 500 hospitals in the U.S. to earn that distinction.