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November 16, 2010

Miss. hospital works to improve heart attack response times

By Yolanda Jones
The Commercial Appeal

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. — Last August, when James Hood was picked up by an ambulance from his Coldwater, Miss., home, paramedics hooked him up to a cardiac monitor that immediately showed he was possibly having a heart attack.

The monitor sent the EKG information to Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto, so when Hood arrived doctors were waiting to administer lifesaving treatments.

From the time he arrived at the Southaven hospital to when he was on the table in the catheterization lab, it took 30 minutes.

Last week, paramedics and nurses from around North Mississippi were at Baptist-DeSoto receiving training on how the diagnostic equipment, called 12-lead EKGS, is improving emergency services for cardiac patients, like Hood.

Hood, 70, was having a STEMI heart attack, which occurs when a major artery supplying blood to the heart is largely or completely blocked.

"My husband is here today with me because of the quick response time of the paramedics being able to transmit his information so quickly," said Brenda Hood. "We are blessed that Baptist-DeSoto and the paramedics have this technology. I have no doubt, it saved my husband."

Within the last two years, ambulances in DeSoto County, Horn Lake, Olive Branch and Southaven, as well as other private ambulance services in the North Mississippi counties including Marshall, Panola and Tate have been outfitted with cardiac monitors.

The monitors allow the EKGs to be transmitted to the hospital, and help identify heart attacks like the STEMIs (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction).

Dr. Stanley Thompson, medical director of the emergency room at Baptist-DeSoto, said the rapid cardiac response time increases a patient's survival.

The national average from scene to treatment is 90 minutes. The hospital's time has averaged 52 minutes, but in cases like Hood, the time was snipped to 30 minutes, Thompson said.

"Time is muscle," Thompson said. "Unfortunately, so many people having cardiac symptoms don't call 911. We want them to know that by calling 911 and getting on that ambulance, by the time they arrive here at Baptist-DeSoto, we are ready to get the blood flowing and get them a better outcome."

He said as they work to improve the cardiac response time, visits to the hospital ER have increased this year.

During the 2010 fiscal year, Baptist-DeSoto had 55,757 emergency room visits, which is an all-time high.

By comparison, last year, Baptist-Memphis had 56,966 ER visits, Methodist South had 54,674, Methodist University had 51,205, Methodist North had 45,670, Methodist Germantown had 43,512, according to figures provided by Ayoka Pond, a spokeswoman for Baptist Healthcare System.

"I think our increase in patients can be attributed to growth in DeSoto County and we have improved the quality of care delivered in the emergency department," Thompson said. "We have more physicians on staff than before and we have increased our cardiovascular services."

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