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State Designates Lake Regional a Level II STEMI Center

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Willie Maxwell, director of the Lake Regional Cardiac Cath Lab Willie Maxwell, director of the Lake Regional Cardiac Cath Lab

Time is crucial in treating heart attacks. To help emergency medical care response teams provide the best care possible in the shortest amount of time, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has identified hospitals across the state that are equipped to provide care to acute heart attack patients. Lake Regional Health System is proud to announce it is one of these hospitals, earning the designation of Level II STEMI Center.

STEMI stands for “ST segment elevation myocardial infarction,” a serious heart attack caused by an obstruction of blood to the heart.

“Designation as a Level II STEMI Center is important to our community because during a heart attack, time is muscle,” said Julia Hudler, Lake Regional’s STEMI coordinator. “Our patients need to be able to get to a hospital quickly to receive treatment to open the blocked artery causing the heart attack. Because Lake Regional has earned this designation, EMS providers can bring heart attack patients to Lake Regional. In addition, rather than having to transfer heart attack patients on to another hospital, Lake Regional can receive transfers from other care centers.” 

As a Level II STEMI Center, Lake Regional offers comprehensive heart attack treatments, including care from board-certified cardiologists, a cardiovascular-thoracic surgeon, and an experienced Cardiac Catheterization Lab team, which specializes in heart care.

Heart Care at Lake Regional

During a heart attack, quick treatment not only increases the patient’s chances of survival, but it also helps minimize damage to the heart muscle. An important measure of how quickly a hospital provides care is its average door-to-balloon time. This is the amount of time that passes between a STEMI patient arriving in the Emergency Department and the heart care team opening the blocked vessel in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

“Our most recent report shows our median door-to-balloon time is 44 minutes, which is better than nine out of 10 hospitals nationwide,” Hudler said. “Nationwide, the median time is 60 minutes.”

The Lake Regional team attributes much of its success to working closely with local EMS providers, who alert the Emergency Department when they are bringing in a possible STEMI patient — even sending electrocardiogram imaging during transport. As a result, the Emergency Department team can begin making decisions and prepare for the patient’s arrival. Many patients can bypass the Emergency Department and go straight to the Cath Lab for intervention, another timesaver.

“This coordination with local EMS providers saves precious time and helps us provide excellent outcomes to our patients,” Hudler said.

Emergency cardiac services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Lake Regional. These services are part of the health system’s comprehensive cardiovascular program, which includes cardiac catheterization, open heart surgery and cardiac rehabilitation.

More about the Designation

STEMI Center designation is part of Missouri’s Time Critical Diagnosis System, which brings together the 911 response system, ambulance services and hospitals to help a greater number of people survive and recover from trauma, stroke and heart attack. Under this system, EMS providers are required by law to take trauma, stroke and heart attack patients to the nearest designated center for their condition.

There are four levels of hospital designations across the state. In general, Level I Centers function as a resource center within a region, for example maintaining specialized resources for the most complex patients. Level II Centers generally provide definitive care to high volumes of trauma, stroke or heart attack patients within a region. Level III centers provide access into the system and important patient care in non-metropolitan areas, and generally refer to a higher level center for definitive care. Level IV centers provide access into the system in rural areas and stabilize and prepare patients for rapid transfer to a higher level of care.

In addition to being a Level II STEMI Center, Lake Regional Health System is a Level II Stroke Center and Level III Trauma Center.

Don’t Hesitate

If you experience heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately. Remember, not all heart attacks begin with the sudden, crushing chest pain. Possible symptoms include:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • arm, neck and/or jaw pain
  • unusual fatigue
  • nausea/vomiting
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • breaking out in a cold sweat

Don’t hesitate. Time is muscle. Call 911, and EMS providers will come out and do an assessment.