NGMC Habersham earns accreditation as Emergency Cardiac Care Center

Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Residents of Habersham County and surrounding communities can count on life-saving care in case of a cardiac arrest or heart attack, thanks to Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) and Georgia Heart Institute. NGMC Habersham was recently accredited as a Level 3 emergency cardiac care center (ECCC), recognizing the level of fast and effective care patients receive at the hospital in Demorest.

“NGMC Habersham is proud to be recognized by the Georgia Department of Public Health as a Level 3 emergency cardiac care center,” said Kevin Matson, vice president of regional hospitals for NGHS. “The accreditation recognizes the hard work of our hospital staff and regional EMS departments to meet the highest standards of patient care. Furthermore, it illustrates the deep commitment of NGHS to elevate the availability and quality of health care we provide to rural communities in our service area.”

NGMC Habersham joins NGMC Gainesville (Level 1), NGMC Braselton (Level 2), NGMC Lumpkin (Level 3) and NGMC Barrow (Level 3) in receiving ECCC designation. Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) made history in 2020 by becoming the state’s first health system to have hospitals accredited as ECCCs. NGMC Gainesville, Braselton, Lumpkin and Barrow were reaccredited in 2023.

“There’s a saying, ‘Time equals muscle,’ and that means every moment counts when a patient has a major cardiac event,” said Habib Samady, MD, FACC, president of Georgia Heart Institute. “Once a patient from NGMC Habersham comes through that door for an interventional procedure or surgery, we can trust they have received optimal pre-hospital care to allow us to begin treatment as quickly and purposefully as possible.”

Hospitals seeking ECCC accreditation undergo a thorough evaluation process, including a site inspection and an assessment of emergency cardiac care processes and equipment. Once these steps are complete, the Georgia Department of Public Health uses a three-level designation system to rank the capabilities of each facility:

  • Level 1 hospitals perform open-heart surgery and interventional cardiac catheterizations.
  • Level 2 hospitals perform interventional cardiac catheterizations.
  • Level 3 hospitals stabilize patients until they are transported to a Level 1 or Level 2 center.

Once a patient is stabilized at NGMC Habersham, they can be transported to NGMC Gainesville for treatment by the interventional cardiologists of Georgia Heart Institute or the surgeons of Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery.

“Treating a patient who has suffered a heart attack or cardiac arrest requires a high level of coordination and a detailed process that begins long before the patient enters the hospital,” said Jeff Adams, director of Habersham County Emergency Medical Services. “EMS personnel work to stabilize the patient with pre-hospital medications and other measures. While in transport, they connect with the hospital to share vital patient information. This way, hospital personnel are prepared to treat the patient upon arrival without wasting any time.”

About Northeast Georgia Medical Center

Since 1951, Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has been on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. With hospitals located in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder, Dahlonega and Demorest, the five NGMC campuses have a total of more than 850 beds and more than 1,300 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. NGMC is part of Northeast Georgia Health System, a non-profit that cares for more than 1 million people across more than 19 counties. Learn more at

About Georgia Heart Institute

Georgia Heart Institute is the most forward-thinking heart and vascular program in the state and includes one of the largest cardiology practices in the region, including more than 80 practitioners seeing patients at more than a dozen locations. With a multi-disciplinary team of experts treating nearly every type of heart and vascular disease and participating in leading national research, we’re providing advanced care that ensures lasting heart health for generations. Request an appointment and learn more at