NHRMC & NHRMC EMS Receive American Heart Association's Mission: Lifeline Awards

September 16, 2014

New Hanover Regional Medical Center has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the NHRMC Heart Center for its commitment and success in providing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients, effectively improving the survival and care of these patients. The Gold Plus Award is the highest possible award from American Heart Association for heart attack care.

For the first time, the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program also recognized emergency transport agencies for their critical role in the identification and treatment of STEMI heart attacks. “STEMI” refers to ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, the most severe type of heart attack. NHRMC’s Emergency Medical Services and AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport teams were each among the first in the nation to receive the Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Recognition Award, the highest award possible for transport agencies this year. NHRMC’s AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport program is one of only two flight programs in the nation to have received the award.

Each year in the United States, about 300,000 people have a STEMI heart attack caused by a severe or complete blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle; a condition that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to immediately restore blood flow, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

NHRMC’s Code STEMI program works with paramedics and hospitals throughout the region to identify when someone is having a STEMI heart attack. This determination triggers the emergency and cardiac teams being readied at NHRMC so the patient can quickly get to intervention in the cardiac catheterization lab. Getting a patient to treatment quickly is a high priority because when a heart attack begins, it’s only a matter of time before permanent damage is done to the heart muscles.

The Mission: Lifeline Awards recognize hospitals and EMS systems for getting patients from the first medical contact to intervention in 90 minutes or less. The average time for a patient at NHRMC’s Heart Center to go from first contact with an EMS team anywhere in the region to intervention in our Catheterization Lab is 70 minutes.

NHRMC earned the awards by working with EMS agencies across the region to meet specific criteria and standards of performance for the quick and appropriate treatment of STEMI patients to open the blocked artery. EMS personnel must administer an electrocardiogram on patients experiencing chest pain in order to more quickly identify a STEMI heart attack. The EMS personnel and NHRMC then work together to get the patient to medical intervention in the appropriate amount of time. Hospitals must also start patients on aggressive risk reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, and ensure that they receive smoking cessation counseling if needed. Eligible hospitals and EMS systems must adhere to these measures at a set level for a designated period to receive the awards.

“New Hanover Regional Medical Center is dedicated to providing high quality care to our patients in the critical minutes after a heart attack,” said David Parks, vice president of cardiac and clinical support services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. “We have worked with a committed team of professionals to maintain regional protocols that allow effective and timely care for our patients. From our own physicians and staff to our partners throughout the region, I am very proud of the achievements of this team.”

About the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Heart Center

New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Heart Center is home to 29 cardiologists and three cardiovascular surgeons who perform more than 550 surgical procedures and 12,000 diagnostic procedures each year. The NHRMC Heart Center is the only hospital in Southeastern North Carolina to perform heart surgery and is among the state’s leaders in cardiac care. In recent years, the NHRMC Heart Center has received recognition for excellence from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, and was named a standout hospital for cardiology and heart surgery. For more information on the services provided at the NHRMC Heart Center, visit nhrmc.org/heart.

About NHRMC Emergency Transport Services

New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Transport Services division, a leader in setting standards for exceptional pre-hospital care, consists of two patient transport departments. NHRMC Emergency Medical Services is New Hanover County's 911 emergency paramedic service and includes a community paramedic program. NHRMC AirLink VitaLink Critical Care Transport is a comprehensive transport program offering air medical transportation, ground mobile intensive care units, as well as basic and intermediate life support medical transportation. It also includes the Regional Transfer Center, which coordinates patient transfers across the region, and VitaLine, the region's 24-hour, non-emergency nurse help line. NHRMC Emergency Transport Services operates two helicopters and 45 ground emergency vehicles with annual mileage exceeding 1.1 million miles. It employs more than 200 medical and administrative staff and responds to more than 47,000 requests for transport services annually.

About Mission: Lifeline

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines. For more information, visit heart.org/missionlifeline and heart.org/quality.