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University Helipad, LifeNet System Shave Time to Save Heart April 16, 2010

For more information, call Erica C. Cline at 706/828-2225.

University Helipad, LifeNet System Shave Time to Save Heart

AUGUSTA, GA (April 16, 2010) – Time is muscle. It’s short, but to the point. When a person is having a heart attack, the faster they get help, the more likely they are to avoid death or severe disability.

That’s why University Hospital is continually working to shave minutes and even seconds off its cardiac response time, and two new projects are helping make that happen.

In mid-January, University launched its LifeNet program with Gold Cross ambulance service in Richmond, Columbia and Jefferson counties.

The system gives paramedics the ability to perform 12-lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) while on a call and transmit the information directly to University Hospital’s Emergency Department. From that transmission, a physician can deter¬mine if a patient is suffering a heart attack and immediately launch preparations for receiving and treating the patient the moment they arrive at the hospital.

“If you have the ECG done before getting to the hospital, the physician can make a preliminary diag¬nosis while the patient is enroute,” said Ward Rogers, M.D., a cardiologist who practices at University Hospital. “You can then immediately call the cath lab, expedite the patient’s treatment and open up the ar¬tery quicker, which saves heart muscle.”

Peggy Bobo, University Hospital’s Emergency Department nurse manager, said the department is always looking for ways to more quickly diag¬nose and treat cardiac patients.

The national standard for door-to-balloon times, or the time it takes a patient to receive cardiac intervention from the moment they enter the hospital, is 90 minutes. University – a nationally accredited Chest Pain Center – wants it done even faster.

“For the Emergency Department, we have a des¬ignated nurse who drills down on every (STEMI, or severe heart attack) to ensure we get our times,” she said. “If it takes five minutes to get an ECG, we look at one-minute intervals to see what could have been done to improve that time.”

Another way University is working to save heart muscle is with its new helipad, which is situated directly in front of the entrance to the Emergency Department.

The helipad will primarily be used to trans¬port cardiac patients from outlying hospitals to University for treatment.

Dan Gates, president of AirMed, said the new he¬lipad will be a tremendous improvement over the old system, which included landing at Daniel Field and then transporting by ambulance.

“From Jefferson County Hospital, it’s a 45-min¬ute to an hour drive with the ambulance,” he said. “In the helicopter, it’s a 12-minute flight. That piece of the puzzle is strengthened greatly.”

The AirMed fleet also has the advantage of being staffed by a dedicated registered nurse as well as an EMT.

“The level of care is higher on the helicopter than you would find on the ambulance,” Mr. Gates said. “We’re better staffed and have more medi¬cations to help stabilize patients before they get to the hospital.”

For more information, call University Hospital’s Heart Line at 706/828-2828 or toll free at 866/601-2828. For symptoms of a heart attack, log on to www.universityhealth.org/heartsymptoms.

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