University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s Cardiac Cath Lab Call Team celebrates a proclamation for its work presented by the Talbot County Council, held by Gary Jones, regional director of Cardiovascular Services, and two awards from the American Heart Association, held by Dr. Gabriel Sardi, left, and Dr. Jeffrey Etherton, right.

EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s Cardiac Intervention Center recently received two Mission: Lifeline awards.

The awards are the Silver Plus STEMI Receiving Center Quality Achievement Award and the Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Bronze Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

Additionally, following a Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems follow-up survey this past spring, UM Shore Regional Health was issued four-year accreditation as a Cardiac Intervention Center.

The Cardiac Intervention Center, at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, has been in operation since February 2018.

“We are proud to have met these guidelines outlined by Mission: Lifeline. The national target for these patients entering a facility and having blood flow restored, or ‘Door to Balloon’ time, is 90 minutes,” said Gary Jones, UM Shore Regional Health’s regional director of cardiovascular services. “We are achieving ‘Door to Balloon’ times of under 60 minutes more than 98% of the time.”

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction, the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks. The initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care.

“To have patients brought to us in a timely manner is critically important, and EMS does a phenomenal job of evaluating patients during transport to initiate treatment and to activate the Cath Lab Call Team process,” Jones said.

At UM Shore Medical Center in Easton, cardiac interventionists work with a team of nurses and technologists quickly to perform emergent percutaneous coronary intervention PCI. It is a minimally invasive procedure using a catheter to place a stent that opens up blood vessels in the heart that have been narrowed by plaque buildup.

Jones said the lifesaving PCI procedure wasn’t available in the Mid-Shore region until February 2018, when the hospital initially was designated a CIC by MIEMSS.

Before the CIC designation, patients in the region experiencing STEMI heart attacks were transferred to the closest CIC. There, the CIC offered treatments for this type of heart attack, which occurs in about 15 to 20% of all heart attack patients.

Many STEMI heart attack patients were taken by ambulance or helicopter to hospitals in Annapolis, Salisbury, Seaford, Del., or University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. These transfer decisions were based on proximity to a CIC level of care but also took into account traffic and other factors that could affect the survival of a patient.

Travel times alone pushed the boundaries of the desired target time of under 90 minutes and optimally within 60 minutes.

“Having the Cardiovascular Intervention Center — and particularly providing primary PCI treatments — is a rare gift to a rural area,” interventional cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Etherton said. “In the past, many patients would have to travel an hour or more to other hospitals for the procedure, and when every minute counts for survival, that’s not a good option.”

UM SRH received these awards by participating in the American Heart Association’s Coronary Artery Disease Get with the Guidelines Registry, which it joined just a year ago.

“This is the first year that we have been eligible to receive AHA awards and we have received two of them — an excellent testament to our commitment to our communities and to the skill of our team,” Jones said.

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