EASTON — The Heart and Vascular Center at University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has received the Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

The Cardiac Intervention Center, located in UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, has been in operation since February 2018.

“Having the Cardiovascular Intervention Center — and particularly providing primary PCI treatments — is a rare gift to a rural area,” said Dr. Jeffrey Etherton, medical director, Interventional Cardiology at UM Shore Regional Health. “Every minute counts when it comes to patient survival. I am so proud of our CIC teams and so grateful for community partnerships like the ones we have with Emergency Medical Services in our five county-region.”

Winning this award required the cardiac center to meet specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility, according to a news release.

“We are proud to have met these guidelines outlined by Mission: Lifeline. The national target for these patients entering a facility and having blood flow restored, or ‘Door to Balloon’ time, is 90 minutes. Shore Regional Health’s cardiologists and Cardiac Intervention Team are meeting that target time and then some. We are achieving ‘door to balloon’ times of under 60 minutes more than 98 percent of the time,” said Stephen Eisemann, interim director, the Heart and Vascular Center at UM Shore Regional Health.

UM Shore Medical Center at Easton was issued a four-year accreditation as a Cardiac Intervention Center in 2019 following a Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems survey.

According to the release, every year more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks.

The initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment that takes tremendous dedication and sacrifice from all those involved,” Eisemann said. “The award is made possible by the collaboration between our emergency departments and other units within our hospitals, and our emergency medical services teams throughout our five-county region. These team efforts are vital to patient survival.”

According to Eisemann, EMS team members evaluate patients during transport to initiate treatment and to activate the Cath Lab Call Team process. At UM Shore Medical Center in Easton, cardiac interventionists work quickly with a team of nurses and technologists to perform emergent percutaneous coronary intervention, a minimally invasive procedure that opens up blood vessels in the heart that have been narrowed by plaque buildup.

Eisemann said UM Shore Regional Health is dedicated to providing quality care for heart attack patients.

“Our program is unique because we are providing services to three acute care hospitals and four emergency departments. Our ability to provide this high level of care to our community is completely dependent on ensuring that these services are available 24/7, 365 by our dedicated staff, who are always on call, to respond within 30 minutes of a STEMI emergency,” he said in the release.

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