GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) is using a recent donation from another Georgia hospital to continue providing life-saving heart care to people throughout Northeast Georgia. Satilla Regional Medical Center (SRMC) requested its $5,000 donation to The Medical Center Foundation’s Healthy Journey campaign be used to help fund the Northeast Georgia Regional STEMI Program, which is sponsored by NGMC to help coordinate fast and effective treatment of patients suffering severe heart attacks in a 13-county area. Administrators at SRMC, in Waycross, Ga., say they made the donation in appreciation of the training their heart staff received from NGMC, which is Georgia’s #1 rated heart hospital and one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation.
"The training our staff received at NGMC allowed us to begin providing interventional cardiology services to our community, which saves each patient an 85-mile trip to a distant hospital," says Windell Smith, SRMC’s Chief Operating Officer. "Our program wouldn’t be possible without the skills and confidence we developed by working with the state’s #1 heart hospital. NGMC helped us make a difference in our community, so we would like to help make a difference in their community."
"We were honored to be asked to teach Satilla about how our award-winning interventional cardiology service works in our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory," says Tom Edwards, Director of Heart & Vascular Services at NGMC. "The nurses and techs from Satilla worked side by side with our staff, learning the best practices for interventional procedures. The experience was great for both hospitals, and we’re thankful for the donation that will no doubt save lives."
The donation will be used to buy modems and other equipment that helps paramedics send crucial information to NGMC before a heart attack patient arrives, which can greatly increase the patient’s chances of surviving a severe heart attack known as an S-T Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, or STEMI.
"STEMI patients are in grave danger because their arteries are blocked, and blood isn’t able to get to the heart," says J. Jeffrey Marshall, MD, a cardiologist with Northeast Georgia Heart Center and medical director of Cardiac Catheterization Labs at NGMC. "Our Regional STEMI Program makes sure information is sent to hospitals while the ambulance is en route, so a cardiologist is waiting to restore the patient’s blood flow almost immediately after he or she arrives."
The program involves a team effort that begins when an ambulance picks up a patient suffering a heart attack. Paramedics hook the patient up to an EKG, which monitors the patient’s heartbeat. If the EKG shows the patient is suffering a STEMI, paramedics work with local emergency doctors to decide if the patient should be taken directly to NGMC or to a regional hospital for stabilization. The EKG is then transmitted via modem to NGMC so an interventional cardiologist can confirm the patient is suffering a STEMI. Once the heart attack is confirmed, the cardiologist and cath lab staff stand ready for the ambulance to arrive so they can take the patient straight to the cardiac catheterization lab and restore blood flow.
"The process may sound complicated, but it is well coordinated and only takes a matter of minutes," says Dr. Marshall. "The goal is to get blood flowing as quickly as possible so the patient is more likely to suffer less damage to the heart muscle."
The Medical Center Foundation will continue to raise money for the Northeast Georgia Regional STEMI Program through its Healthy Journey campaign and the 19th Annual Medical Center Open Golf Tournament, which is set for October 7, 2010. If you’d like to donate to Healthy Journey, or play in the Open, please contact the Foundation by calling 770-219-8099 or visit www.TheMedicalCenterFoundation.org/golf.
About Northeast Georgia Medical Center
Northeast Georgia Medical Center is one of Thomson Reuters’ 100 Top Hospitals in the nation for 2010, and is rated as Georgia’s #1 heart hospital for the fifth consecutive year (2006 – 2010) by HealthGrades®. In fact, for 2010, NGMC was one of only six hospitals in the nation to rank #1 in all four cardiac categories. Learn more by visiting www.nghs.com/heart-services or www.nghs.com/about, or by calling 770-219-3840.
About Satilla Regional Medical Center
Satilla Regional Medical Center serves as the major medical referral center for the nine-county region it serves in southeast Georgia. Learn more about Satilla’s new interventional cardiology services by visiting www.satilla.org, or by calling 912-287-2569.