By: Denise Marquez, News-Sun
If you’re having heart attack symptoms,Hobbs may be the best place to have them.
Lea Regional Medical Center physicians and staff are taking on a new program called Code Heart that is ultimately cutting down the time it takes to treat a patient with a heart attack or heart attack symptoms.
“When somebody presents into our emergency room with signs of symptoms of acute coronary syndrome, which are chest pains, pressure or shortness of breath or other signs that we look for the triage nurse will notify the ER nurses immediately,” Jenny Forest, chest pain coordinator, said. “They are brought back immediately. Our goal is to have an electrocardiogram (EKG) done and read by the ER physician, their labs drawn and make sure they have had an aspirin in the last 24 hours, within 10 minutes.”
All of Lea Regional’s staff have been trained and drilled for the past 18 months on the Code Heart process. Patrick Dunn, Lea Regional chief nursing officer, said the overall goal is to prevent heart damage.
“This is a national standard expectation to be able to do the best we can to avoid heart muscle damage,” Dunn said. “When everybody works together as a team all at once it’s amazing how efficient and easy it becomes in the end. Most facilities do not follow the process that we do so it takes significantly longer for one person to accomplish everything.”
Lea Regional staff see about 80 Code Heart patients a month. Richard Foster, Lea Regional emergency department director, and Dunn said the process can sometimes be overwhelming for patients.
“The patient sometimes gets nervous because they think, ‘Why is everyone giving me a lot of attention,’” Dunn said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it is a very serious situation to have a heart attack. So we treat it in that manner.”
“It all kind of happens all at the same time,” Foster said. “That way we get all that done in 10 minutes.”
Tim Thornell, Lea Regional chief executive officer, said most Code Heart cases do not end up being serious situations, but each case is treated as if it were one.
“They say the right triggering words and everything goes into action right away,” he said. “It’s a small percentage that truly fall in that bucket (of a heart attack) but you don’t know that until you do that work-up, so we do everything quickly to determine that. If it is, you want to respond quickly and you don’t want to lose that precious time. So you just narrow that window down and everybody that qualifies, you take care of them.”
If a patient is having a heart attack the next measure is to treat them quickly and transfer them to a receiving hospital, under 90 minutes, which is Lea Regional’s time goal.
“We do have partnerships with Midland, Odessa and Covenant, that’s mostly where our tertiary patients would go,” Dunn said. “We’re finding that when they get there (receiving centers) they are seeing there is nothing that they have to do because it’s all fixed. With the speed that we’re making, we’re actually getting patients out of the ER within 45 minutes. The goal is actually 120 minutes so we’re actually below it.”
Local emergency medical services are also trained in Code Heart and can sometimes speed up the process when patients call EMS to get them to the hospital.
“We do have the ability to receive EKG’s from EMS,” Foster said. “They are able to run those EKG’s in the field and the physician has the ability to view and read them before the patient ever arrives here. So it’s even faster when (patients) call EMS ... rather than drive themselves here.”
Thornell said the Code Heart process was taken on by Lea Regional staff to offer the best treatments available to their patients.
“We have a commitment and a passion to improve quality of care,” he said. “We looked at some of the prevalent things that we see and face here in Hobbs. Patients presenting with chest pain we know is one of the top things that we deal with.”
Denise Marquez can be reached at (575)391-5437 or at email@example.com.
5419 North Lovington Highway
Hobbs, NM 88240