Phoebe setting cardiac records

ALBANY -- An area hospital has something to be proud of.

A year ago, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital acknowledged the hospital's achievement of its 100-day goal to reduce treatment time for heart attack patients. Last week, Phoebe again celebrated when its team broke its cardiac-care record three times within the past month.

Ninety minutes is the accepted standard of care time for emergency medical professionals to treat a heart attack from door to catheterization, also known as door-to-balloon time.

"When teams are functioning at a high level, lives are saved in a matter of minutes," said Dr. Doug Patten, senior vice president of medical affairs at the hospital.

From mid-November to mid-December, the team cut its response time from 17 minutes to 14 minutes to 12 minutes in the course of treating three different patients.

The 100-Day Challenge was made in October 2008 to reduce treatment times at Phoebe. A team comprised of local emergency medical services personnel, Phoebe's emergency center medical personnel and the hospital's catheterization team and cardiologists shaved an average of 30 minutes off the standard time for every heart attack patient during the course of the challenge.

"I'm proud of the department," said Ken Rosebach, director of the Phoebe Cath Lab. "Without the patients, we wouldn't have the motivation."

The 100-day period ended Jan. 23.

Since 1983, 30,000 cath procedures have been performed at Phoebe. Since the mid-1990s, there have been 10,000 coronary stints and angioplasties conducted.

"This is a lot of experience and procedures performed," said Dr. Craig Mitchell of Cardiology Associates of Albany. "But that doesn't matter without quick treatment. A lot has to happen (within the door-to-balloon time).

"There are few emergencies where time is more important than in this situation. Time is of the essence."

The hospital purchased more than three dozen 12-LEAD EKG machines, which were given to EMS personnel in eight counties in Southwest Georgia. The paramedics with this technology now have the capability at the patient's home or in the ambulance to transmit data of diagnostic digital quality from the mobile electrocardiogram to the emergency center.

"We are proud of what our crew has been able to do with this equipment," said Kim Gilman, director of nursing at Phoebe Worth Medical Center. "It enables diagnosis before the patient leaves their home."

Two patients with recent heart attack experience are Richard Reedy of Albany and Gerald Hallman of Doerun.

Reedy, 65, had his eighth heart attack in November. His door-to-balloon time was 14 minutes.

"(Quick treatment) makes a big difference; it helps you get back on your feet quicker," he said. "Right from the beginning 'til I got home, it was wonderful."

Hallman, 66, is retired from the Army. He had his first attack in December, which took a 12-minute door-to-balloon time to treat.

"The experience was marvelous," he recalled. "I was surrounded by angels."

From the onset of a heart attack, the heart muscle begins to die. By putting the medical technology in the hands of paramedics, officials say communication has strengthened and is more quickly facilitated between the ambulance en route with a heart attack patient and the hospital's cardiac team.