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GWV, G-CMC pilot program to speed heart attack care

CONTACT: Matthew Van Stone: 570-808-3248
June 6, 2013

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center (GWV) and Geisinger-Community Medical Center (G-CMC), in partnership with several other hospitals and emergency medical service (EMS) providers in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton areas, is participating in a regional heart attack treatment program aimed at markedly reducing the time it takes to treat ST segment elevation myocardial infarctions (STEMI), the most deadly type of heart attack.

Local hospitals and EMS providers are working to streamline heart attack treatment by obtaining EKG readings in the field and transmitting them to the nearest hospital so a catheterization lab team can be readied as a patient is in transit. An added component of the program is an emphasis on transporting patients directly to a hospital with capabilities for angioplasty procedures – often the best treatment for a heart attack – rather than bringing patients to a closer hospital that does not offer the procedure.

“When treating a patient with a heart attack, every second could be the difference between life and death,” said Peter Berger, M.D., chairman, cardiology, Geisinger Health System. “The goal of this program is to get all the hospitals in the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton regions to work cooperatively with their local EMS providers to develop systems of care that begin the second someone dials 911 and continues through the delivery of fast, effective, life-saving care in a catheterization lab. We are hoping to optimize the care that all heart attack patients in the region receive from the minute their symptoms begin until they undergo treatment in the catheterization laboratory, regardless of which hospital they are taken to for care.”

This project is an extension of the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline initiative, which, for five years, has helped create systems of care for treating heart attacks with balloon angioplasty in fewer than 90 minutes from the patient’s arrival at the hospital – a vital period termed door-to-balloon time. Dr. Berger serves on the national American Heart Association Mission: Lifeline heart attack committee, which led him to instituting this program in northeastern Pennsylvania. Funding for the project was secured by a grant submitted by Dr. Berger and Cinde Bower-Stout, a Geisinger Health System heart attack coordinator.

“It is a true testament to the quality health care providers in this area that physicians at GWV and Geisinger-Community Medical Center (G-CMC) were able to effectively collaborate with EMS providers in the region and physicians, nurses and administrators from the other hospitals, including Regional Hospital of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, to create systems of care with a sole focus on saving our neighbors’ lives,” said Dr. Berger. “The STEMI accelerator project has been successful in numerous urban and rural areas throughout the country. It is our expectation that we will meet, if not exceed, the results achieved elsewhere in the United States.”

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