|Chest Pain Center wins re-accreditation
by Cindy Abole
Area residents experiencing chest pain or any other coronary-related
condition now have a chance to receive immediate care and better
outcomes thanks to a team of specialists and the most advanced
technology. MUSC’s Chest Pain Center (CPC) at Ashley River Tower (ART)
earned national re-accreditation as a comprehensive and dedicated
center for the diagnosis and treatment of chest pain. The program
offers a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses and other
clinicians matched with advanced diagnostic technology that allows the
evaluation and treatment of patients.
Members of the multidisciplinary acute coronary syndrome quality team are a guiding force to the CPC.
The service offers comprehensive, coordinated care with specialists
from MUSC’s emergency department, radiology, heart & vascular and
laboratory medicine. The team is ready to respond to any patient who
presents with chest pain or any other cardiovascular problem including
heart failure, heart attack, arrhythmias, and vascular problems and an
ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).
The CPC, which opened in February, has operated as a virtual chest pain
center working with staff since September 2005. In the treatment of
chest pain and heart attack, time equals muscle. The longer one waits
for treatment after a heart attack, the more heart muscle dies. The
door-to-balloon time, considered a standard for success, measures the
response time of the clinical team once a patient is admitted with
chest pain. MUSC boasts a door-to-balloon time of 65 minutes compared
to the national average of 80 minutes.
MUSC joins more than 1,500 facilities across the country
accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. More impressive, MUSC
is among the ranks of privileged programs that are comprehensive chest
“We’ve created this dedicated focus facility to provide high-level,
acute care evaluations for patients with cardiac abnormalities and
chest pain,” said Peter Zwerner, M.D., CPC co-medical director. “We’re
able to focus our faculty, highly-trained staff and growing technology
in one place to provide these services.”
Patients who are admitted with chest pain at the emergency
department and ART will receive the same pathway to care whether they
arrive by ambulance or walk-in admissions. Once admitted, they have
access to one of the most advanced imaging facilities—nuclear
imaging, CT, echocardiography—to help evaluate a patient’s condition.
After completing an evaluation, a patient can either be admitted
(inpatient), undergo further testing, be discharged, or scheduled for
further tests (outpatient).
The CPC teamed up with the Heart & Vascular Center and other
specialty services such as the cath lab to not only improve their
door-to-balloon time ratio but also reduce a typical 48-72 hour
hospital stay to as little as six hours. This improvement represents a
turnaround in practice as well as a cost savings and peace of mind for
patients, according to Zwerner.
“We’ve done a remarkable job in reducing the time a patient first
presents at the hospital to actual procedure,” said Gary Headden, M.D.,
Department of Emergency Medicine and CPC co-medical director. “We’ve
achieved national recognition for our ability to rapidly treat patients
with life-threatening conditions.”
At the heart of its success is the CPC nursing staff led by Pamela
Smith, R.N., CPC nurse manager. The 13 nursing staff members are
experienced, senior-level nurses who receive extra training related to
the management of chest pain observation patients. Four registered
nurses are certified in emergency nursing by the Board of
Certification for Emergency Nursing. With a focus on patient care and
preventive medicine, their expertise expands beyond patient care and
includes patient education and lifestyle and knowledge of new drugs,
therapies and techniques to help identify high-risk patients.
Zwerner expects the CPC to grow along with continuing breakthroughs in
medical technology that will help in evaluating and treating patients
with cardiac abnormalities.
Headden, Eric Powers, M.D., medical director of MUSC's Heart &
Vascular Center, and Natalia Corica, outcomes manager at the Heart
& Vascular Center, are involved in developing standards of care
to communities, including organizing STEMI care throughout the
state. Headden and Powers are part of several statewide efforts to help
coordinate systems with cutting-edge technology and resources to
connect patients to primary care facilities like MUSC.
“We want to concentrate on providing the best things for our South Carolina heart patients,” said Powers.
Capt. Todd McGeorge is the training officer with Charleston County
Emergency Medical Services. During CPC’s assessment, he spoke with
accreditors about their procedures and interaction with STEMI patients.
“MUSC’s Chest Pain Center is a good resource for Charleston area
residents,” said McGeorge. “MUSC's program is the best in the area.
We’re eager to participate and contribute to a program that improves
the standard of care for patients.”
The CPC team is not resting on its laurels. Currently, its focus
continues with improving patient care, research and educational
opportunities for providers and residents. It's also working on
achieving Cycle 3 accreditation, which begins in January. Accreditors
were impressed in how MUSC was already meeting many of the criteria to
Nov. 21, 2008