Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital ranked first among 949 U.S. hospitals in the rapid response to heart attack patients, hospital officials said today.
According to a report by the American College of Cardiology Foundation's National Cardiovascular Data Registry, Memorial Hospital's "door-to-balloon" time averaged 66 minutes. The national standard of care is 90 minutes or less, hospital spokeswoman Katy Hillenmeyer said in a release today.
Balloon angioplasty and stents are emergency procedures used to open clogged arteries.
Door-to-balloon time is the critical interval between a heart attack patient's arrival at the hospital and the restoration of blood flow to the heart muscle in the cardiac catheterization lab.
"When clogged arteries are blocking the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, every minute counts," Trish Scalerico, RN and catheterization lab manager at Memorial Hospital, said in a news release.
"The quicker we restore blood flow to the heart, the greater the patient's chances of survival, full recovery and minimized heart muscle damage," Scalerico said.
The report covered the January-March 2009 quarter. All patients suffering a heart attack who were brought to Memorial Hospital had door-to-balloon times under 90 minutes between those months, Hillenmeyer said.
Heart attack patients also benefited from the response by Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Services that began an early heart attack detection program in 2006 with local hospitals.
Coastal Valleys Emergency Medical Services serves Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties.
Bryan Cleaver, Regional EMS Administrator of Coastal Valleys EMS, said responders wanted to achieve a 90-minute limit between the detection of a heart attack in a patient at home or in the community and intervention by the catheterization lab.
"For us, it's home-to-balloon time," Cleaver said.
Mark Fox, spokesman for the American College of Cardiology Foundation, confirmed this afternoon that Memorial Hospital ranked first among the 949 hospitals that were tracked in the study.
He said he could not release "proprietary information" about any other Bay Area hospitals that may have participated in the study without the permission of the individual hospitals, which are free to release their performance data.
Hillenmeyer said confirmation that a patient was suffering a heart attack was not often made until the patient arrived in the hospital's emergency department.
Most local paramedics now use a 12-lead electrocardiogram to evaluate patients after a 911 call and notify hospitals to ready their response team before the patient arrives, Hillenmeyer said.
Since Memorial Hospital opened its new Heart and Vascular Institute adjacent to the emergency department in November, its clinical staff shaved between two and five minutes off the typical treatment of heart attack patients, Hillenmeyer said.
However, it was the coordinated effort of cardiologists, emergency physicians and nurses, who each month studied previous patients' charts to find ways to expedite care, that made a more crucial impact, Hillenmeyer said.
Their efforts and those of X-ray and respiratory care professionals reduced the catheterization lab prep time to as few as 13 minutes in some cases, said Denise Thomas, a clinical nurse specialist in Memorial Hospital's emergency and critical care services department.
Bay City News