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Three Metro Hospitals Unite to Improve Rural Heart Care

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three metro hospitals are joining forces to help improve the health of our citizens in a new protocol program created through a generous pledge of $300,000 from the Naifeh family. Oklahoma consistently scores poorly in national health statistics, ranking at or near the bottom in many categories. Heart disease tends to be the area of greatest concern. INTEGRIS Heart Hospital has formed the Naifeh Families Oklahoma Regional STEMI (heart attack) Consortium with Oklahoma Heart Hospital and St. Anthony Hospital to develop a response protocol program that will give Oklahoma residents living in rural communities access to the same type of acute cardiac care provided in the metro. The program is similar to the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® initiative designed to reduce mortality and morbidity caused by heart attacks.

Franklin, Robert and Jeaneen Naifeh , along with their families, are long-time proponents of improving patient and cardiac care . “Our family is deeply passionate about heart research, and we are proud to expand this mission throughout the state of Oklahoma,” says Franklin Naifeh. “This process has been a wonderful experience and supports the long-standing confidence we have in the leadership of these institutions.” Their legacy of giving illustrates the enduring commitment the Naifeh families pledge to the outgrowth of cardiac care within the community and throughout Oklahoma.

February is National Heart Month. This year alone, an estimated 1.4 million people in the United States will suffer a heart attack. Approximately 400,000 of those victims will experience what’s called a ST-elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI, the deadliest type of heart attack. This consists of a complete block in blood flow to a portion of the heart. Unless the blockage in the artery is eliminated quickly to restore blood flow, the patient is at greater risk of death or debilitation. Unfortunately, far too many STEMI patients do not receive the treatment they need fast enough. For best results, treatment should be administered within 90 minutes of the STEMI event.

Traditional treatments include clot-busting drugs or PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention), which uses mechanical means such as stents, balloon angioplasty or surgery to restore blood flow. While most hospitals can administer clot-busting pharmaceuticals to heart attack patients, only 25 percent of our nation’s hospitals are equipped to provide PCI, the most effective form of treatment for a STEMI heart attack.

INTEGRIS Heart Hospital, Oklahoma Heart Hospital and St. Anthony Hospital are all PCI-capable hospitals seeking to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. These include patient delay, ill equipped first responders, emergency room delays and transfer delays.

To meet the overarching goal, the consortium is attempting to streamline the response protocol between patients and care givers, EMS crews, physicians, nurses and other providers, non-PCI capable hospitals and PCI capable hospitals. It is working to develop STEMI systems of care, ensuring that STEMI patients can get the life-saving care they need within the critical time window. By bringing together health care resources into an efficient, synergistic system, improvements in the overall quality of care will occur. The needs of heart attack patients will be met throughout the continuum of care.

“Everything is happening in parallel,” said Charles Bethea, M.D., medical director of INTEGRIS Heart Hospital. “The medics are conducting the ECG while the patient is being transported, the emergency room is reading the data and preparing for the patient’s arrival, consultations are being made with physicians at a PCI-capable hospital, and arrangements are being made to get the patient to that hospital either by ground or by air if needed. It is a true choreography of sorts involving multiple people and organizations.”
One phone call from the transferring facility will seamlessly set everything in motion through the Code STEMI Hotline coordinated through the INTEGRIS Transfer Center.

INTEGRIS Health’s Bill Holland, APRN-CNP, will oversee the one call system. “The regional hospitals will be able to handle the majority of cases, but in a true STEMI event we will need to get that patient to a PCI-capable hospital and into the heart catheterization lab in less than 90 minutes. Depending on the patient’s proximity to Oklahoma City, we will either dispatch an ambulance or a helicopter. In the future we hope to have designated in-field landing areas so we can transfer STEMI patients even quicker.”

The goal of the consortium is to increase efficiency across the care continuum and reduce time to treatment by at least 30 minutes, which could ultimately save lives. If the pilot program proves successful, the hope is to roll it out to the entire state and let it serve as a model for other organizations to follow.

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