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Memorial Hospital Wastes No Time in Matters of the Heart -3/28/05

Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women annually. Keeping with its designation as one of the nation’s top 100 cardiac hospitals, Memorial Hospital has embarked on a journey to fast track heart attack patients via a new program titled “Cardiac Alert,” a more centralized, streamlined emergency response and intervention protocol for treating acute cardiac patients. Memorial’s Cardiac Alert program is a collaborative effort involving fire department response teams, participating cardiac physicians and Memorial’s cardiac team.

Since September 2004, Memorial’s Cardiac Alert program has reduced heart attack emergency response-to-intervention times by nearly 50 percent. The clock starts when a patient arrives in the Emergency Department and stops when their blocked coronary artery is opened in the Catheterization Lab. In December, 2004, Memorial’s average intervention time was 56 minutes per case, far exceeding the 90-minute benchmark established by the American Heart Association and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

“When dealing with heart attack patients, time is muscle,” stresses Donna Lastra, Memorial’s associate administrator of cardiovascular services. “The Golden Hour rule applies in these instances, meaning a heart attack patient’s outcome is determined by the quality of care they receive in the first 60 minutes.” Data from the American Heart Association supports this claim, citing that cardiac patients who receive care at hospitals with high adherence to treatment standards have a 33 percent lower mortality rate than patients treated at hospitals that don’t subscribe to the same measures of intervention care.