February is the month we celebrate the human heat as a symbol of love. It’s also American Heart Month, and as part of their mission to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the American Heart Association shines a very bright spotlight on heart health.
Along with “touching hearts to save lives” in the communities where we live and work, the American Heart Association provides valuable resources for millions of Americans who live with heart disease or a cardiovascular condition, stressing the importance of prompt medical care when certain warning signs are present – every second counts.
Recently, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City received Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), while Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond received reaccreditation.
“Accreditation is a benefit to Chest Pain Center patients since it assures the kind of quality of care they will receive and puts us on the cutting edge of providing them the best possible treatment,” Carl Metcalf, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, said.
Accredited hospitals have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with heart attack symptoms.
Such hospitals undergo a rigorous, onsite evaluation by review specialists, which assures centers meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine.
They must demonstrate expertise in the following areas:
• Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system.
• Assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly.
• Effectively treating patients with low risk of acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms.
• Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.
• Ensuring the competence and training of personnel.
• Maintaining organizational structure and commitment.
• Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care.
• Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display heart attack symptoms.
Hospital Chest Pain Center directors praised their staffs and colleagues for the honors.
“This is the culmination of an excellent collaborative process between the hospitals’ physicians, staff and ancillary services to provide the best care possible for patients experiencing acute coronary syndrome,” Eric Cook, D.O., of Franciscan St. Margaret Health, said.
Neil Malhotra, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health Michigan City, who called the designation exciting, added, “I am very impressed with the hard work of the staff. It shows how dedicated we are to providing the best possible care for our patients.”
SCPC is an international nonprofit 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. As the only cross-specialty organization, SCPC provides the support needed for individual hospitals and hospital systems to effectively bridge existing gaps in treatment by providing the tools, education and support necessary to successfully navigate the changing face of healthcare.
Along with facility accreditations, the SCPC shares early heart attack education (EHAC) in an effort to change the sobering statistics of heart disease, which causes 1 of 4 deaths in the US. In addition, about 50 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital suggesting that many people don’t act on early warning signs. Survey results show that only 27 percent of respondents were aware of all major symptoms and knew when to call 9-1-1.
By asking the question, “did you know heart attacks have beginnings?” the SCPC hopes to increase awareness of the fact that these “beginnings” occur in over 50% of patients – and most importantly, if recognized in time, the “beginnings” can be treated before the heart is damaged - did you know 85 percent of heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack?
Whether you call them symptoms or warnings, it’s important to understand that some people may or may not experience any or all “beginnings.” For example some people may experience mild chest symptoms such as pressure, burning, aching or tightness – and these “beginnings” may come and go until finally becoming constant and severe.
According to SCPC, the full list of “beginnings,” which may occur hours or weeks before an actual heart attack, includes:
• Pain that travels down one or both arms
• Jaw pain
• Chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort
• Back pain
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling of fullness
The SCPC EHAC initiative promotes recognition of the signs and symptoms of an impending heart attack, encouraging early recognition when symptoms may be mild. Early treatment can prevent a heart attack for people experiencing these symptoms.
For more information on SCPC, accreditation and certification opportunities, visit scpcp.org, or call toll free, 1-877-271-4176.