By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
After 20 months of research and evaluation, Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal has received a three-year Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.
The hospital is one of 28 accredited programs in the state.The achievement marks the hospital's focus on quality care for patients, as well as its commitment to educating the community on heart attack signs and symptoms.
"This involves everything from public awareness to coordination with EMS and education of nurses and doctors," said Dr. James Freilich, emergency medicine physician and medical director of the hospital's Chest Pain Center. "I think it's a big deal. It's not about profit or making money for the hospital, it's just about maximizing care."
Freilich explained that getting the designation involved close work with Winchester Medical Center to ensure that a patient gets the highest level of care needed for a particular problem. He also said that it wasn't a designation that many smaller hospitals have.
"It was a monumental amount of work," he said. "But residents should be happy and proud that their local hospital is bringing top-of-the-line care. We're a serious institution, and we pride ourselves on being up to date."
Rasheva Sperry, nurse and key contact for the Chest Pain Center, was one of the staff members instrumental in achieving the designation. She attended a workshop about chest pain centers and said she felt that in order to continue fighting against heart disease, the accreditation was the something the hospital needed.
"There's a systematic approach to treat this," she said.
After forming a committee, she and several staff members began looking at data associated with heart disease. The closely evaluated response process called for increased communication with EMS, she said.
"We really looked into how timely we are with delivery of care...we can't improve what we don't measure," she said. "If certain steps are done in a timely, streamlined manner, then mortality rates can be reduced."
Sperry emphasized that the main goal when it comes to heart disease or chest pain is early recognition. She said the center will do more community outreach and education to inform the public on signs and symptoms of heart attacks.
"The biggest thing we can suggest is do not wait," she said. "What we do at the hospital is great, but the chain starts with community members. They have to initiate the call to 911. Trying to manage these things at home is exactly what we don't want people doing."
Sperry said she felt a close tie to the accreditation, as she knew a young, lifelong friend who died from a heart attack.
"When I was at the funeral, I felt like I should've been there to recognize his symptoms ... to do something sooner," she said.
Now the hospital has more of a standard practice when it comes to treating those with early signs, making their results more consistent. Staff members will regularly go through training, and the hospital will continue to take feedback into consideration when trying to improve care.
"Treating chest pain is one of the most important things we do," Freilich said. "Time is muscle."