A little heart-to-heart
February is Heart Month and Divine Savior Healthcare would like to share with you just some of the ways in which we are preventing, identifying and treating heart-related emergencies in order to keep you and your family healthy and safe.
Divine Savior Healthcare’s Emergency Department is the frontline when a cardiac issue arises. You’ll be pleased to know that when it comes to your heart, our team is top notch. In a cardiac emergency, the role of our health professionals is to use our advanced technology to assess the patient, administer any necessary immediate treatment, and transfer them to one of our three partner hospitals in the region with the ability to perform acute coronary interventions. As you can imagine, in these situations minutes are precious and every single one counts.
In the last quarter of this year, we are pleased to report an average door to transfer time of 55 minutes for our cardiac patients – far exceeding the national average of 94 minutes.
It’s also critical to get patients experiencing chest pains an electrocardiogram (EKG) as soon as possible. This test identifies whether or not the unexplained chest pain is an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). Our heart attack patients received this important test in less than six minutes on average (national average is just under 14 minutes).
One important way we are cutting down the time it takes to get our patients care is by following ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) protocol as outlined by the American Heart Association. As part of this protocol, our emergency medical services (EMS) team identifies patients coming in as STEMI patients by using EKGs on the ambulance and proper codes can be called within the hospital so teams can prepare for their arrival in advance. The EMS team is also able to send directly to our emergency room physician’s computer a copy of the EKG readout so that the physician can interpret it and grant approval for medication to be administered in the field and/or provide any guidance.
In addition, as many now know, administering aspirin at the onset of a heart attack can be a life saver. Our most recent data shows that 100% of the patients who arrived at our emergency department with chest pain, received aspirin upon arrival.
Another lifesaving tool in a cardiac emergency is an automated external defibrillator (AED). AEDs are lightweight, portable devices that provide an electrical shock capable of restoring the normal heart rhythm of cardiac arrest victims. Not only does Divine Savior Healthcare have AEDs located throughout our facility for use in an emergency, but we have also made donations of AEDs to local law enforcement agencies in order to help them save lives in our community when necessary.
When it comes to the heart, the best offense is a good defense. Our dedicated team of primary care physicians is diligent in working with their patients to make sure they take care of their hearts and have the proper and appropriate screenings where necessary.
Divine Savior Healthcare has also invested a great deal of time, money and effort to ensuring we have the latest in technology to diagnose cardiac problems in our medical imaging department and stress lab. Advancements in this area include the latest nuclear medicine camera that can image the blood flow to the cardiac muscles through the coronary arteries, as well as specialized ultrasound equipment to take echocardiograms of the heart and specially trained staff to use them. These images are key in monitoring cardiac wall motion, cardiac valve function, blood flow through the chambers of the heart and other heart anatomy in order to assist cardiologists in making diagnoses and assessments.
For those in our community who require the regular care of a cardiologist, we are pleased to have physicians from Dean, Meriter Wisconsin Heart and UW Hospital and Clinics visit Divine Savior Healthcare regularly so our patients have the convenience of appointments close to home.
For those who have experienced a heart attack or heart surgery, our Cardiac Rehabilitation team is here to educate and counsel patients to improve their health in order to prevent future cardiac incidents. These professionals can create a plan of action to address areas such as physical fitness, smoking cessation, stress management, diet (with the assistance of a licensed dietitian) and more to improve overall cardiac health.
Prevention is the best medicine
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have patients in cardiac distress. Preventative measures are one way we are working to decrease the number of patients who will experience a cardiac emergency.
The Divine Savior Healthcare Community Health Education department has several ways in which they help our community improve their heart health. For over 35 years we have offered our annual Heart Care Program. Each August, over 350 community members are able to receive a screening that provides them their specific risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, elevated glucose, cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglycerides in the blood with a simple finger stick method for only $15. Each person who participates receives an immediate report along with a detailed booklet that provides vital information on how to reduce the identified risks.
Divine Savior Community Health Education also offers free weekly blood pressure screenings on Wednesdays from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. in Suite 100 and reduced cost cholesterol screenings six times each year. In addition they supply training for the community and health care workers through their Basic Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Heartsaver CPR classes. A variety of exercise classes are also available year round. For the latest in offerings, visit www.dshealthcare.com and click on the "Community Education" tab.
The Rehab department also works hard to improve the fitness and cardiac health of our community through several programs. The Live Fit program utilizes our licensed athletic trainers and state-of-the-art facility to provide personalized and medically directed fitness development to help patients reach their fitness goals. This program is open to anyone looking to make a lifestyle change or meet a fitness goal. For more information call (608) 745-6290.
The Building Better Athletes program helps to reach junior and high school age kids. This program is led by athletic trainers who help them improve their strength, fitness and flexibility and helps keep them active during summer months.
We take the health of our community seriously, and we continue to make every effort to bring you the latest in technology and techniques to prevent, diagnose and treat heart-related illness. For more information on our services or providers, visit www.dshealthcare.com.
Since 1917, Divine Savior Healthcare has been providing quality health care to Portage and its surrounding communities. Founded by the Sisters of the Divine Savior, the organization employs over 700 people and offers a variety of services performed by highly trained and skilled professionals. Learn more about Divine Savior Healthcare at www.dshealthcare.com