Published on February 10, 2011

Helping Heart Attack Patients Across Region

Coordinated Care from DeWitt to Davenort Saves Life

Diane Smith of rural Grand Mound thought she had the stomach flu.

Little did she know it would get far worse. Her heart would stop beating that day.

A veteran of one heart attack, the 55-year-old had an inkling she faced more than the flu when she nearly passed out. She called her husband, Allen, inside, laid down on the couch, and felt the telltale signs unfold.

Clamminess... Sweatiness... Pain radiating down her arm.

Diane Smith of Grand Mound  survived a heart attack thanks to a coordinated system of care at Genesis.  Ambulance and Emergency staff at Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt brought her back from cardiac arrest before she was rushed to a cardiac catheterization lab at Genesis, Davenport.

Diane Smith of Grand Mound
survived a heart attack thanks
to a coordinated system of care
at Genesis. Ambulance and
Emergency staff at Genesis
Medical Center, DeWitt brought
her back from cardiac arrest
before she was rushed to a
cardiac catheterizationlab at
Genesis, Davenport.

"By then, I could tell it wasn't the flu," she says of that day on Nov. 19, 2010. Her son, Wade, a Grand Mound firefighter, happened to be at the family's farm and called 911. Her daughter-in-law, Ashley, a first responder, arrived. DeWitt Ambulance came on the scene and rushed her to the national award-winning Emergency Department at Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt.

Diane Smith is alive today, in part, because the rural hospital and paramedics responded with a coordinated system of care that quickly put her ailing heart in the hands of cardiologists at Genesis Medical Center, Davenport.

Thanks to a heart attack alert system, called an M.I. Alert, she would be transported by ambulance to Davenport, where a mobilized team was waiting to take her to the hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and open her blocked artery as soon as possible.

A life-saving E.D.

Before she got there, however, her life would first need to be saved by Ambulance and Emergency Department staff from Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt.

It all happened very fast. She remembers being in the DeWitt emergency room. When her EKG  signaled heart attack, preparations were made to transfer her to Genesis, Davenport. Her son and husband got in the car and drove ahead.

They would soon have to turn back, however, when they received the call her condition had deteriorated.

"They put me on the ambulance, and that's when I went into cardiac arrest," Mrs. Smith says. "I was still on the DeWitt campus when I was given CPR and shocked with a defibrillator to get my heart beating again.

"I was gone for a while, and they brought me back. The DeWitt ambulance and Emergency Department staff were absolutely fabulous. Not only did they save my life, but they kept my family informed as my condition changed and showed so much compassion."

Her great care continued at Genesis Medical Center, Davenport, where her artery would be opened by cardiologist Nicolas Shammas, M.D., and where she spent several days in the hospital. She also underwent several months of outpatient cardiac rehabilitation at the Genesis Heart Institute.

 "I had a total blockage in the main artery that goes across the heart," she says. "My family doctor says I'm very lucky to have walked away from that."

Despite 30 minutes of travel time between DeWitt and Davenport, the goal is to open patients' blocked arteries within the window of time that meets the national standard of care.

" Because we are part of a regional system of health care,  our Emergency Department patients can receive quick access to specialists in the Quad Cities, such as cardiologists, trauma surgeons, neurologists and radiologists, if needed," says Jeff Cooper,  President of Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt. "The care we can provide exceeds that of most rural hospitals."

In 2010, the hospital's Emergency Department was a second-time recipient of the national Summit  Award for sustaining the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Helping hearts across the region

The Genesis heart attack alert system takes a team effort across the miles -- from paramedics in the field to health care teams at outlying hospitals and the Genesis campuses.

"So many people are working toward the same goal -- to restore blood flow to the blocked artery," says Lisa Foster, Manager of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Genesis, Davenport. "Getting the patient to the Cath Lab and opening the artery as quickly as possible means less damage to the heart muscle and improved survival."

Genesishas heart attack alert agreements with hospitals in Burlington and Sterling, which have Cardiac Catheterization Labs, and Genesis Medical Center, DeWitt and Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa, which do not. Genesis Heart Institute cardiologists provide outreach in nearly nine smaller towns across the region.

The Genesis, Illini Campus, also has an M.I. Alert process and a full-service Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

"We partner with small facilities, so we can provide service to heart attack patients in need," Foster says. "For example, if a patient having a heart attack comes to Jackson County Regional Health Center in Maquoketa, the hospital can call the Genesis M.I. Alert number and be put in direct contact with cardiologists in Davenport who can begin the process of getting the patient transferred. The preference is to get the patient to the facility where we can open their blocked artery the fastest."

The Genesis Cardiac Catheterization Lab in Davenport performs more than 8,500 procedures each year. The median  door-to-balloon time is 56 minutes -- meaning from the time the patient presents to one of the Emergency Departments at Genesis to when a cardiologist opens the blocked artery in the catheterization lab. That's far faster than the national standard of care of 90 minutes.

In 2010, Genesis Medical Center, Davenport earned distinction as one of the nation's 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by Thomson Reuters for outstanding outcomes and efficiency.

Diane Smith is thankful to have survived her close call and to be back to her normal life. She recently celebrated the birth of a grandchild. "Fortunately, things fell into place the way they were supposed to be."

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