Blount Memorial Hospital has been recognized for outstanding heart attack treatment, receiving the 2016 Gold Recognition Award from the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® quality improvement program.
“The drive to always improve, to always look for what’s better and to always shorten the gap between you and the finish line is something that (Blount Memorial’s) team has always been remarkable at,” said American Heart Association representative Jared Ellis, who visited Blount Memorial Tuesday, Aug. 9 to present the award to the hospital’s STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction) team. “(The hospital’s) patient population is one that has been treated extremely well by this team,” he added.
Each year in the United States, approximately 250,000 people experience a STEMI caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death and preserve heart tissue, it’s critical to immediately restore blood flow as quickly as possible by opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication. Time is critical.
“If you think about the time we’ve cut off from eight or 10 years ago compared to today, that’s another 20 or 30 people who are walking their daughters down the aisle,” said Blount Memorial CEO Don Heinemann. “That’s the real impact. Those are all our neighbors, people we serve and people we work with.”
Mission: Lifeline’s goal is to reduce the amount of time between first medical contact with a heart attack patient and the time a device is deployed in the coronary artery, with a target of 90 minutes or less. Currently, Blount Memorial’s STEMI team performs well above the national average with “door-to-open-vessel” times under 40 minutes, putting the hospital in the top 10 percent in the nation. It’s all part of a collaborative effort with local paramedics and first responders that, in many cases, helps identify heart attacks quickly, begin treatment in the field and enables the STEMI team to begin preparing for the patient’s procedure before he or she even arrives at the hospital.
“This is a huge accomplishment for our STEMI team,” said Blount Memorial cardiologist Dr. Jane Souther. “We’ve worked very hard over the years to try to improve a process that is life-threatening for people. We have worked as a team to try to give the people in this community excellent care, and we’re very proud of that accomplishment.” In addition to Souther, Blount Memorial’s team of cardiologists includes Dr. Andrew DeNazareth, Dr. Michael Gallagher, Dr. Bhavin Patel, Dr. Peter Scott, Dr. Alan Smuckler, Dr. Aiswarya Sundaram and Dr. Taylor Weatherbee.
“This is an acknowledgement of the outstanding care we give to cardiac patients here,” said Blount Memorial chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore. “We are a top-notch facility, and our community should feel completely secure that we can handle situations like this. There are a lot of people walking around right now in Blount County who wouldn’t be if we didn’t have this outstanding service,” he said.
Blount Memorial previously received Bronze Recognition and Silver Recognition Awards in 2013 and 2015, respectively. “We never stop. We always look for ways to improve things so that we can provide excellent care to our patient population,” Souther said.