Northeast Georgia Health System First in State to Receive Emergency Cardiac Care Center Designation

Published on May 05, 2020

Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) continues to lead the way in life-saving heart and vascular care by becoming the first health system in the state with hospitals designated as Emergency Cardiac Care Centers (ECCC). This new designation from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) means that when you or someone you know has a heart attack, you can trust Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) to provide fast and effective treatment.

“Receiving the ECCC designation is such a tremendous accomplishment for our team,” says Jason Grady, NGMC regional STEMI coordinator. “But this achievement extends far beyond the walls of our system – connecting first responders, emergency departments and cardiologists throughout the regions to ensure each patient receives the level of care they need.” 

Healthcare organizations seeking ECCC designation by the Georgia DPH 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 DPH 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.

Based on these specifications, NGMC Gainesville received Level 1 designation, NGMC Braselton received Level 2 designation and NGMC Barrow and NGMC Lumpkin both received Level 3 designation.

“Receiving ECCC designation speaks volumes about the level of cardiac care NGHS provides,” says Ryan T. Whitney, MD, FACC, interventional cardiologist and chairman of The Heart Center of NGMC. “Our continued dedication to excellent heart and vascular care – both routine and in emergency situations – is saving lives throughout our community and beyond.”

The designation comes almost three years after legislation that created the concept of Emergency Cardiac Care Centers in Georgia was signed into law at NGMC Gainesville on May 3, 2017.

“Jason, our cardiologists and our entire team worked tirelessly for this designation to become a reality – and we had strong support from Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. Butch Miller, Sen. Renee Unterman and Rep. Lee Hawkins,” says Carol Burrell, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System. “NGHS has a rich history of being the leader in cardiac care, and that legacy continues today.”

Cardiologists with The Heart Center of NGMC continue to provide routine heart care during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can even schedule an appointment via video chat, so you don’t have to come to the office. Schedule your video visit today by calling 770-534-2020 or request an appointment at 


Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 50 specialties. Learn more at

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We want to thank our community and local businesses for their amazing generosity during this time. Here are some ways you can support our community and staff:

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    Many people in our community are sewing masks for our healthcare workers. We have created some mask sewing instructions and information about drop-off locations. Get detailed mask-making instructions here.

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There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to avoid infection is to avoid exposure. Here are simple steps you can take to lower your risk of catching or spreading illness:

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Learn more by visiting the CDC COVID-19 website.

In late January, NGHS created a Coronavirus Task Force including leaders from across the system to begin preparing for the possibility that our facilities and staff may see patients with COVID-19.

We have been following the guidance of the CDC and are working to ensure staff are diligent in following standard protocol to ask patients about their travel history. In the event that additional preparation is needed, this team will move swiftly to follow any new guidance.

About COVID-19 Testing:

NGHS has the ability to coordinate testing at some of our locations. Please call your doctor's office or urgent care clinic for advice about whether testing is right for you. Recently we implemented a new E-Visit specific to the Coronavirus.

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