Chest Pain Center
Erlanger's Chest Pain Center is under the medical direction of nationally-renowned Emergency Medicine physician, Francis Fesmire, MD, FACEP. The state's first code STEMI was initiated in Hamilton County by Hamilton County EMS and Erlanger Health System. This system has been extremely effective at decreasing the door to cath time.
The Erlanger Health System has become 16th in the nation - and the region's first - to earn the highest level of accreditation for its Chest Pain Center. Following a recent site visit by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), the Chattanooga-based healthcare provider has been granted top-level status as "An Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention)." According to Nicole Chandler, Erlanger's Chest Pain Center Coordinator, the SCPC accreditation process included extensive documentation, review of information and an on-site visit to affirm that all eight key elements to the Chest Pain Center protocol were in place. "This accreditation track is used by facilities committed to providing quality cardiac care - and which have the resources available to do so," Ms. Chandler said. "For us to earn this elite level of accreditation meant that we had to exceed a wide set of stringent criteria and be carefully evaluated for our protocols," she added.
The eight areas in which Erlanger had to demonstrate expertise in managing heart attack are: (1) ER's ability to integrate effectively with local EMS services; (2) ability to assess, diagnose and treat patients quickly to minimize delays in treating heart attack; (3) effectively handle low-risk patients for acute coronary syndrome through a structured hospital observation and monitoring program ; (4) functional design of facility, including appropriate cardiac equipment; (5) personnel competency and training; (6) organizational structure and equipment; (7) process improvement orientation; and (8) community outreach.
Among the goals of a Chest Pain Center is to ensure treatment for those experiencing chest pains during the critical early states, when treatment is most effective, and in a specialized observation setting in which physicians and staff are better able to determine if one is having a coronary event. "This protocol-driven, systematic approach to treatment helps prevent patients from being sent home too early or needlessly occupying a Coronary Care Unit bed," explained Ms. Chandler.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the adult population in the United States, with more than 5 million Americans entering hospitals annually with chest pain and 600,000 dying of heart disease. "Being first in the tri-state region to achieve this prestigious national accreditation confirms Erlanger's leadership role in reducing mortality and improving outcomes for heart attack victims," according to the Erlanger CEO.