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Published on July 23, 2014

Mercy achieves elite 5-year milestone for heart attack care

Marion man credits well-established process with saving his life

Mercy Medical Center has achieved elite status among healthcare organizations, with a system that saves lives and crucial time in treating heart attack patients. For five consecutive years, Mercy has been the area’s only hospital providing 100 percent of its cardiac patients with “Door to Balloon” times of less than the national standard of 90 minutes. This five-year milestone has been achieved by only a few hospitals in the nation.

Door-to-balloon time is a term coined by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to describe the time it takes for physicians and hospital staff to recognize and treat a heart attack patient with balloon angioplasty, stents or both after the patient arrives at the hospital. The ACC recommends 90 minutes or less.

A Life Saved

Don Kearney, 38, was a recipient of Mercy’s expert care for cardiac emergencies. Kearney collapsed after a workout at the Rockwell Rec Center earlier this year. Rockwell staff immediately called 911, setting into motion Mercy’s efficient and well-coordinated plan for the treatment of heart attacks; one that Mercy’s Emergency Department, cardiovascular lab and other cardiac team members have diligently practiced and fine-tuned.

While Don was in the ambulance en route to the hospital, area ambulance staff sent cardiac alerts, including Don’s EKG, to Mercy from the field, thereby equipping the hospital’s heart team with information to assess his condition prior to arrival at the Emergency Department. Once at the hospital, Mercy’s heart team was able to quickly and effectively insert a stent to open up a complete blockage in one of Don’s arteries. 

“As soon as I got to the hospital, they told me they had all the data on what my heart was doing and what they were going to do to fix it. It was almost like I had a SWAT team working on me,” said Don.  “I just felt like I was in the right place all along.”

Teamwork leads to finely tuned heart care

“Time is (heart) muscle,” explains Dr. Cam Campbell, Medical Director of Mercy’s Cardiovascular Services. “The quicker we can open up a blocked artery, the better the chance we have of saving the patient.”

Mercy’s team of healthcare providers has made it a priority to work seamlessly together to coordinate care and hone their response times into a finely-tuned, standardized process. Mercy’s “perfect heart attack care” results are noted on the CMS Hospital Compare website for procedure times under the national standard of 90 minutes.

A number of factors contributed to this accomplishment: strong physician leadership across several departments, area ambulance services activating cardiac alerts in the field and Mercy’s Emergency Department’s management of the process, according to Dr. Campbell. Campbell says staff and physician dedication to this initiative has been a major factor in achieving and sustaining this goal over the course of five years.

For more information on Don Kearney’s story and Mercy’s excellence in cardiac care, visit our Heart page.

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