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HaysMed earns new accreditation





Hays Medical Center has earned national accreditation as a chest pain center, and hospital officials said the new processes implemented will lead to better patient care.

The full accreditation with the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care became official June 18. HaysMed staff had been working for a few years to meet the society's chest pain treatment criteria, said Carol Groen, manager for special projects.

"This is another step in our commitment to provide superior emergency and cardiac care to western Kansas," CEO Dr. John Jeter said in a press release. "Our core purpose is to help people be healthy, and achieving this status affirms our status as a leader in providing quality patient care."

Hospital staff worked closely with Ellis County dispatch and Emergency Medical Services to streamline fast response for patients suffering possible heart attacks. Paramedics now call the hospital when EMT tests indicate a severe heart attack. HaysMed staff, after receiving the call, immediately mobilizes a cardiology team for emergency intervention, said Carol Groen, manager for special projects.

"They'll call (heart attack) alert out in the field, and what that does for us is give us time to call in our team," Groen said, "to have our cardiologist, our cath lab people all at the bedside ready for when this patient arrives."

The goal is to reduce the "door to balloon time," or the amount of time it takes before the blocked blood vessel is opened with stents in the cath lab. The national standard is 90 minutes, but HaysMed would like to reduce that time to 60 minutes, she said.

"The help we get from EMS saves us minutes," she said.

New protocols also have been implemented for patients who come to the hospital with undiagnosed chest pain. Emergency department staff conducts necessary tests, which quickly determine if the patient is suffering a heart attack, Groen said.

If a heart attack is not the problem, patients now can be admitted to a clinical decision unit for 23 hours, giving medical staff additional time to monitor the situation.

"Sometimes it doesn't appear to be a heart attack, because EKGs are normal; the labs are normal; the patient's getting better," she said. "So they keep those people 24 hours and stress them a little bit, then get those labs and make sure we're not missing anything."

A third change will be increased focus on community education and prevention. HaysMed especially will work to educate residents about early warning signs that might indicate a forthcoming heart attack. Those symptoms might include mild chest pain, fatigue or shortness of breath.

"Many times those symptoms are denied or overlooked. People think they'll go away, but that's when they need to come in," she said. "What happens is people wait, and they come in after they've had that heart attack, and they've already got that damage to their heart."

Education efforts also will include working with rural hospitals to help them diagnose and transfer cardiovascular patients as quickly as possible.

According to the accrediting society's website, HaysMed is the only accredited chest pain hospital in western Kansas. The accreditation will be renewed every three years.

"We've gone the extra step to have this certification or accreditation done, which again, was a very intense (effort) looking at our processes and our system," Groen said. "I think the community should feel comfortable coming here and getting their cardiac care here, because our process does change the outcomes in a positive manner."