“The residents of South Los Angeles deserve access to high-quality services in their community and the opening of this new receiving center does just that. Lives will be improved and even saved because of what is happening today,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, speaking at a press conference for St. Francis Medical’s new STEMI receiving center for heart attack patients.
Center (SFMC) announced the opening of its new STEMI Receiving Center at a press conference on March 4. The new service, which began on March 1, enables South Los Angeles residents who are experiencing a heart attack to receive more immediate critical, life-saving care within their own community. Until now, a huge gap in STEMI Receiving Centers in this part of LA County had resulted in heart patients being transported out of the area – which delayed crucial treatment when “every second counts” during a heart attack.
A STEMI, or “ST elevation myocardial infarction,” is one of the most common and deadly forms of heart attack. Patients experiencing a STEMI are at risk of developing sudden cardiac arrest. They require immediate Catheterization intervention by a trained cardiologist and treatment ranging from a stent to angioplasty to open heart surgery. By expanding its services to include an enhanced level of care, SFMC provides direct response and medical care for area patients undergoing a STEMI, which minimizes risk for long term heart damage.
“Patients in our community have had to endure long ambulance transports to hospitals out of our region,” said SFMC President & CEO, Gerald Kozai. “Now they have the high quality services, technology, and cardiac care specialists they need much closer to home.”
Supporting the hospital’s expansion of its Heart Center services is Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 2nd District, who was guest speaker at the press conference. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas stated, “The residents of South Los Angeles deserve access to high-quality services in their community and the opening of this new receiving center does just that. Lives will be improved and even saved because of what is happening today.”
SFMC was successfully approved as a STEMI Receiving Center (SRC) by the LA County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency after an extensive survey with EMS officials in mid-January. The STEMI Receiving Center Confirmation Agreement was ceremoniously signed at the press conference by SFMC and EMS representatives. SFMC is now one of 34 STEMI Receiving Centers in LA County, and the only medical center providing these services within an approximate 10-mile radius of the medical center, which serves major regions of South and Southeast Los Angeles.
“Coronary disease is the leading cause of death in the community we serve,” said Kozai. “Yet there is a marked shortage of STEMI Receiving Centers in our service area, which is why we took the steps to fill this gap and further SFMC’s commitment to serve our community’s needs.”
The most recent EMS statistics report that more than 3,340 patients were transported to LA County STEMI Receiving Centers in 2012, a number which has steadily increased since the EMS STEMI Receiving Center network was established in 2006. The purpose of STEMI Receiving Centers is to ensure that 911 patients who are experiencing a STEMI are transported to a facility with 24/7 cardiac catheterization and surgical capabilities. As soon as an individual calls 911 to report chest pains or other potential heart attack symptoms, the EMS responders confirm through an electrocardiogram (ECG) that the patient is experiencing a heart attack. If so, the patient is transported immediately to a STEMI Receiving Center, such as SFMC.
“Paramedics alert SFMC’s emergency department when a STEMI patient is on the way,” said Richard Seidman, MD, FACC, SFMC Medical Director, Cardiology/Congestive Heart Failure Care Management and STEMI Receiving Center. This triggers a ‘Code STEMI,’ which signals the 24-hour on-call cardiac team to prepare the Catheterization Lab for the patient’s arrival.”
The key measure of success during a STEMI is time, and SFMC’s cardiac team follows a strict, proven set of protocols that provide for a rapid response and specialty treatment. Immediate medical intervention can reduce heart damage and serious complications.
“Successfully obtaining EMS approval as a STEMI Receiving Center is an important step in our ability to care for the members of our community and to work closely with our first responders in the critical first minutes of a STEMI,” said SFMC Emergency Department Medical Director, Clayton Kazan, MD. “Through the collaborative efforts of a dedicated team of emergency physicians and staff, cardiologists, cardiovascular and endovascular surgeons, and specialty-trained nurses and technologists, SFMC meets and exceeds the stringent guidelines established for approved STEMI Receiving Center.”