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For Immediate Release: October 1, 2012
For more information, contact:
Amy Taylor                                                                             
Coordinator, Communications and Marketing               
Flaget Memorial Hospital


 Bardstown – Flaget Memorial Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, has received Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, an international organization dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the number one cause of death worldwide. 

Charles Sowder, M.D., a Flaget Emergency Department (ED) physician who was part of the team that worked long and hard to win Chest Pain Center accreditation for the hospital, sees this new designation as “a really important thing. When a facility achieves Chest Pain Center status, it means you have successfully demonstrated that you have created a system that is state-of-the-art for treating heart attack patients. This is going to save lives.” 

Hospitals that earn Chest Pain Center accreditation treat heart attack patients much more quickly and effectively during the critical 90-minute window when the heart muscle can be preserved, said Sowder, who serves as Flaget’s Chest Pain Center director. They also monitor patients when it is not certain that they are having a heart attack to ensure that they are not sent home too quickly or needlessly admitted to the hospital. 

This life-saving care is a team effort. But that care doesn’t necessarily start at the ED door, Sowder said. Ideally, it begins with a 911 call to Nelson County Dispatch Center workers, who are the front line of the Chest Pain Center team. 

Dispatchers have been trained to work with the PowerPhone system, which helps them aid callers, according to Debbie Carter, director of the dispatch center. The PowerPhone is an electronic “book” that gives dispatchers questions to ask and recommends actions to take based on the caller’s answers. 

For example, dispatchers are authorized by Sowder to tell callers to take or give aspirin in cases where heart attack is suspected and aspirin is appropriate. 

“Everything starts with us – with that first call,” said Carter, who is part of Flaget’s Chest Pain Center steering committee. “And aspirin for heart attack symptoms can be life-saving.” 

While dispatch summons an ambulance, aspirin can be working to help the heart. When the ambulance arrives, paramedics test the patient’s heart with an electrocardiograph machine. 

If the EKG shows heart attack signs, paramedics can administer one of several drugs, said Nelson County EMS Director of Education Eva Prewitt, a paramedic on the Chest Pain steering committee. In the meantime, EKG results are radioed to Flaget’s ED workers. 

In record time, the patient is transferred by ambulance to ED. By then Flaget has admitting workers, doctors, nurses, radiology techs, respiratory therapists, lab techs and various drugs already assembled. 

“Our numbers are amazing,” according to former Flaget ED Director Laura LaRue, R.N., B.S.N., M.B.A., who was a driving force on the steering committee, and who still serves on the committee and works part time in the ED. “It’s 11 minutes ‘door-to-drug’ time. Within 11 minutes, we’re giving you the medicine you need. That’s unbelievable.” 

After assessment and treatment in the ED, if a patient still requires a heart catheterization or surgery, “we have a network in place with our partners in Louisville,” said Sowder. “It’s a 14-minute helicopter ride to Louisville. We can get you there very quickly.” 

A year of preparations for Chest Pain Center accreditation helped all members of the team – from dispatchers to paramedics to hospital workers - cut response times and improve processes. Part of winning Chest Pain Center status meant keeping meticulous track of a great deal of data. When some of those records were analyzed, they showed a majority of chest pain sufferers drive themselves to the hospital--or have relatives drive them. 

“You can’t treat yourself in the back of your own car,” Sowder said. “That number is disheartening.” 

It should improve, however, because part of Flaget’s Chest Pain Center accreditation requires the hospital and the rest of the team to educate the community about EHAC – Early Heart Attack Care. It means that team members are going to health fairs, health forums, and even to elementary schools to teach the best ways to help people having heart attack symptoms. 

Calling 911 is the most basic tenet of EHAC, Sowder said. To illustrate that point, he sometimes tells people about a doctor having a heart attack who refused to call 911. That doctor tried to get to a hospital by himself, but “he got stuck in traffic. He was 46 years old. He just sat there in traffic and died.” 

Sowder and the rest of the Chest Pain Center team are determined to do enough educating so that people don’t make that doctor’s mistake. Have aspirin in your home. Call 911. Because there is now a Chest Pain Center in Bardstown, more patients will survive. 

Flaget Chief Operating Officer/Chief Nursing Officer Norma Goss, M.S.N./E.D., who has headed up the Chest Pain steering committee since it was formed, knows the importance to Nelson and surrounding counties of having a Chest Pain Center nearby. 

“Beginning with public education, all the way to inpatient care, what we have in our community now is a seamless system that performs up to rigorous standards considered the best practices,” Goss said. “That’s something people in our community can feel great about. You’ll get care right here that’s on par with the best care in the nation.” 

Flaget President and CEO Sue Downs, M.S.N., C.E.N.P., agrees totally. 

“This was a great experience for us,” Downs said. “Even though it required a great amount of effort, the guidance was excellent, and the teamwork was tremendous. The elements that we have adopted ensure that we are continually improving our patient care and achieving our ultimate goal for the communities we serve—saving lives!”

About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center.  The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies, with nearly 15,000 employees across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is the largest health system in Kentucky and has more than 2,700 licensed beds.



Publish date: 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013