St. Mary’s earns accreditation for heart attack care

St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center in Grand Junction has earned recognition for diagnosing and treating patients with symptoms of a heart attack.

The hospital received accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care as a chest pain center.

To earn the designation, St. Mary’s evaluated its heart care processes and integrated what are considered best practices to reduce the time between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis and treatment. A team of specialists also conducted an onsite review to determine if the hospital met criteria established by the SCPC, an international organization dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the leading cause of death worldwide.

In addition to putting in place processes and procedures for treating patients with symptoms of a heart attack, St. Mary’s also had to demonstrate staff expertise and training and its support for public education programs about recognizing and seeking care for early heart attack symptoms.

The procedures at St. Mary’s Hospital for treating chest pain and other symptoms of a heart attack include coordinated efforts among the various teams and departments that play a role in a heart patient’s care, starting with local dispatch and emergency responders and including local cardiologists and the emergency department as well as the cardiac and intensive care units at the hospital.

“More than half of people suffering heart attacks experience one or more early symptoms. Too many people ignore these symptoms, and that can be a deadly mistake,” said Julie Shayne, chest pain center coordinator at St. Mary’s. “By learning and recognizing the early warning signs of heart attack and calling 911, no time will be wasted in getting to the hospital. The condition will be diagnosed and treatment started sooner, minimizing or even avoiding damage to the heart.”

Shayne said early symptoms of a heart attack include not only chest pain, but also jaw pain, back pain, pain that travels down one or both arms and shortness of breath. Women, diabetics and the elderly are more likely to experience such atypical symptoms as unusual fatigue, nausea, anxiety and sleep disturbances, she added.

“So many people who’ve suffered a heart attack say they felt off or not themselves in the hours or even days before the attack, but they ignored those symptoms, assuming they would just go away,” Shayne said. “Patients sometimes begin cardiac care elsewhere only to have to be transferred to St. Mary’s for more advanced care. This costs precious time in their diagnosis and treatment.”