Chest Pain Center is reaccredited

Kayla Roberts
Dr. Neal Gaither

WINCHESTER – Winchester Medical Center’s Chest Pain Center has been reaccredited by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.

Kayla Roberts, director of the Chest Pain Center, said the accreditation standards show quality improvement and standardization of care.

The reaccreditation was performed by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care with on-site evaluations looking at speed and effectiveness of patient care, continuous process improvement efforts, staff and physician competency and training, and outreach programs created to educate the community. This process is performed every three years.

“Chest pain is the second most common reason for people to go to the emergency department,” Roberts said.

Dr. Neal Gaither, cardiologist and medical director of the Chest Pain Center, added that there is a growing population of older and at-risk patients in this area.

“Coronary artery disease can manifest itself in various ways. But the most urgent and immediately life-threatening way is what we call an acute myocardial infarction — some people would call that a coronary or a massive heart attack,” he said, “We see those relatively frequently here.”

When this occurs, irreversible damage is done to the heart and the Chest Pain Center team must work quickly to prevent further damage.

“At the moment that the blood vessel blocks off, suddenly there is irreversible heart damage occurring, and minutes matter, and minutes matter because the longer you wait to restore blood flow to the heart muscle, the higher the mortality is,” he said.

The center has reduced the average time elapsed from the patient’s arrival in the emergency department to treatment in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab to restore blood flow.

The time has dropped from 104.4 minutes in 2006 to 50 minutes in 2015. The national goal is 90 minutes or less.

Gaither added that symptoms of a heart attack can be subtle, but if someone is experiencing any signs of a heart attack, always call 911. A person experiencing symptoms of a heart attack shouldn’t drive to the hospital.

Roberts said the center also collaborates with emergency medical services (EMS) to provide services to the patient before he or she even reaches the hospital. The Lord Fairfax EMS region covers Frederick, Clarke,  Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. But they also receive EMS services from West Virginia agencies as well.

Also, systems must work together to provide the best result to the patient. The community member, EMS, emergency department staff and catheterization lab staff must effectively communicate with each other throughout the process.

“Any delay increases our loss of heart muscle,” Roberts said.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

More Information

Heart Attack Signs

The American Heart Association’s website, www.heart.org/HEARTORG, states that warning signs of a heart attack include:

• Chest discomfort.

• Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

• Shortness of breath.

• Nausea.

• Lightheadedness.

• Breaking out in a cold sweat.

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