Mercy Medical Center—Des Moines recently received reaccreditation as an Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI by The Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC). The hospital first received this national accreditation in 2005, and was granted full Cycle II accreditation with percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) in 2008. Mercy was the first hospital in Iowa to receive accreditation, and continues to be the only accredited Chest Pain Center in central Iowa.
To earn accreditation, Mercy’s Chest Pain Center had to demonstrate expertise in a number of areas – including integrating the Emergency Department with the local emergency medical system; assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly; effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms; and continually seeking to improve processes and procedures. In addition, Mercy must ensure Chest Pain Center personnel competency and training; maintain organizational structure and commitment; have a functional design that promotes optimal patient care; and provide support to community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack.
In 2004, Mercy collaborated with community hospitals and emergency medical response (EMS) teams to implement the Level 1 Heart Attack Protocol – a program designed to reduce time to treatment for rural Iowans who suffer from heart attacks and cannot quickly access the level of treatment often offered only in urban areas.
“Mercy and Iowa Heart Center have been working with EMS providers since 2004 to streamline and standardize cardiac care, says cardiologist Margaret Verhey, M.D., co-medical director of the Chest Pain Center. “Our protocols standardize medications and patient care. EMS also has the ability to transmit EKGs directly from the field which expedites the diagnosis and treatment process. While most of the country is now meeting a target of opening blockages in less than 90 minutes— we consistently average less than 60 minutes. This helps our patients minimize additional damage to their heart.”
Today, over 25 hospitals participate in the protocol and thousands of patients have benefited from the program.