A year ago this November, New Hanover Regional Medical Center opened a Chest Pain Center to better care for people coming to the hospital with chest pain, the most common symptom of a heart attack. For the more than 800 patients who have been treated there, it has generally meant faster access to tests and a shorter stay in the hospital.
Open 24 hours a day, the center offers a centralized place to monitor patients with chest pain outside of the emergency department. It is for patients who are at low to moderate risk of having a heart attack, rather than those who come in with higher risks who are immediately admitted to a telemetry bed or the coronary care unit.
Not only does it free up needed space in the emergency department, it provides patients a more comfortable place to have testing. The center is staffed with physicians and nurses specifically trained in cardiac care. They have fast access to cardiovascular tests so they can more quickly diagnose the cause and severity of the pain.
Manager Tom Curley, RN said it has had a big impact on the length of time a chest pain patient needs to stay in the hospital.
“Now, most patients can be in and out, on average, within 8 to 12 hours,” said Curley. “Before, they would often be admitted and need to stay a couple of days for testing or spend a long time being observed in the Emergency Department.”
The rapid diagnosis of coronary artery disease is important to the successful treatment of a patient.
“With this unit we’re able to triage these patients and give them a more comfortable environment for observation and testing,” said cardiologist, Linda Calhoun, MD. “We’re treating patients in a very efficient manner. It’s been good because we’ve been able to pick up patients who are having heart attacks at an earlier stage.”
The Chest Pain Center also provides patients with information on what they need to do to prevent future problems. Patients are given instructions for better heart health and encouraged to make follow-up appointments with their own physicians.
For more information about chest pain and the NHRMC Chest Pain Center, talk to your physician or call VitaLine at 910.815.5188.