Santa Rosa The Place to Have a Heart Attack

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

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