NORMAN — When it comes to heart attacks, every minute counts. Which is exactly why Norman Regional’s HealthPlex hospital has taken the effort to achieve Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.
The HealthPlex is the only hospital in the Oklahoma City metro area to have achieved this level of national recognition from SCPC, an international not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming cardiovascular care by assisting facilities in their effort to create communities of excellence that bring together quality, cost and patient satisfaction.
The accreditation has helped the hospital staff streamline their reaction and treatment time, said Brittni McGill, project manager. The end result: The hospital has cut its treatment time, from initial contact with a patient to opening a patient’s artery, from 90 minutes to an average of 40 to 50 minutes.
And according to Dr. Archana Gautam, interventional cardiologist and the Chest Pain Accreditation Co-Medical Director, cutting treatment time can be the difference between life and death. Gautam said every minute past 60 minutes after a heart attack the heart cell damage is irreversible. So in the case of a heart attack, she said, “time is heart muscle.”
The hospital’s accreditation process took 12 months to complete and included educating both non-clinical and clinical hospital staff members — from receptionists to doctors to paramedics — on how to effectively treat patients with heart attack symptoms, Gautam said.
“As soon as that patient steps in (the door), it starts right there,” Gautam said, referring to effective treatment.
The HealthPlex has earned Chest Pain Accreditation with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, but the accreditation ensures patients receive the same care at all campus locations, McGill said. The HealthPlex offers heart patients a continuum of care, including dispatch, emergency medical response including EMSSTAT (an ambulance service owned and operated by NRHS), its Chest Pain Center/emergency department, cath lab, the Norman Heart Hospital, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac surgery, and a community outreach program.
And while the hospital will continue to work to improve their treatment plans and maintain accreditation, McGill said, the most important step now is continuing to raise awareness in the community about heart attack symptoms.
Dr. Marcia Hoos-Reinke, Chest Pain Center Emergency Physician and Chest Pain Accreditation Co-Medical Director, said individuals shouldn’t be scared of having a heart attack but they shouldn’t be dismissive of possible symptoms.
“The quicker you get treatment, the better your survival outcome,” she said.
Individuals who notice possible symptoms should call 911 right away, Hoos-Reinke said. Treatment can begin before the patient ever arrives at the hospital, she said, with patients receiving EKGs from the paramedics inside their home or en route to hospital. And now thanks to accreditation, by the time the patient arrives to the hospital, a team will be waiting and ready to accept the patient and complete the care.
Patients should not attempt to drive themselves to the hospital when exhibiting heart attack symptoms. McGill said a patient recently crashed into the hospital after attempting to transport themselves.
Hoos-Reinke said there’s not a typical heart attack patient. Increased risk factors include individuals who smoke and have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of heart attacks. Men over 45 are also at risk. Avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and getting exercise can help prevent a heart attack, she said.
Because heart attacks are also possible in healthy individuals with no other risk factors, Hoos-Reinke said everyone should be aware of possible symptoms and act immediately if they arise.
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