The staff at Gateway Regional Medical Center has its heart in the right place.
The Granite City hospital has stepped up efforts to build on its reputation for cardiac care, acting on several different fronts.
One, said Chief Executive Officer Ed Cunningham, is a new campaign offering a free online risk assessment and the opportunity for a free follow-up verification screening, for heart disease. It can be accessed at GatewayHeart.com.
“The program allows a person to go online, answer a series of questions, then it calculates a heart disease risk,” he said. “We hope that this personalized assessment can provide helpful tips for better heart health.”
The hospital, at 2100 Madison Ave., is also working on its Chest Pain Center accreditation.
“We are getting ready to be certified for our first time. We are currently compiling all of our data in order to meet the many required standards and anticipate certification by the end of next summer.”
One of the hospital’s goals is to address patient needs even before they reach the facility. The hospital has been, among other things, working with ambulance crews from Granite City and surrounding communities to test a system that performs a 12-lead EKG on patients en route, allowing results to then be transmitted to the hospital ER doctor as soon as possible to initiate the diagnosis process.
“If somebody’s having a heart attack, we can start the evaluation process before a patient even arrives at the hospital,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham stresses the importance of getting clogged blood vessels reopened as quickly as possible, from the time of a patient’s arrival, through angioplasty or other necessary measures. The hospital calls it “door-to-balloon time.” According to the American College of Cardiology, the national standard for restoring blood flow to the heart is 90 minutes or less.
“Currently, Gateway Regional averages a 47 minute door-to-balloon time, which is significantly better than the national standard,” he said.
The hospital recently invested in a new cardiac catheterization lab that opened its doors in 2011. In addition to being able to place stents and perform angioplasty and regular catheterization, there is also the ability to use radiology equipment to actually measure the size of a blockage.
“We have worked with St. Louis Heart and Vascular since December to call for a cardiologist who can come on-site to care for a patient,” he said. Dr. Harvey Serota is CEO of the heart and vascular group.
Providing prompt, quality care is always a top priority. Gateway Regional also pledges that patients in the emergency department will see a medical provider within 30-minutes, but has recently averaged a 25-minute “door-to-doc time.” When a patient enters the ER at Gateway Regional Medical Center, the arrival time is noted. The 30-Minute ER Service Pledge begins the minute a patient checks in at the ER desk.
“Our pledge is that a clinical professional will work diligently to initially see each patient within 30 minutes or less of their arrival to begin the evaluation and treatment. When the patient is seen by a clinical professional, defined as a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner, the time is logged on the patient’s chart – so we can track our performance in keeping our pledge of low ER wait times,” said Cunningham.
“While the goal of Gateway Regional Medical Center’s ER pledge is to work diligently to initially see every patient within 30 minutes, the most critical health emergencies will always receive top priority,” said Dr. Jeffrey Arendell, ER Medical Director.
“While we are committed to prompt and appropriate care for our ER patients, the 30-Minute ER pledge should not be misinterpreted as an effort to rush patients through the ER,” he adds. “Our process improvements focus on getting ER patients into a treatment room as quickly as possible, enabling our clinical professionals to see a patient and begin diagnosis and treatment in a timely manner.”
Cunningham was named chief executive officer at Gateway Regional Medical Center effective March 11, 2013.
He has more than 30 years of experience, serving in leadership positions at several hospitals and a number of health-care companies. For the previous five and a half years, he was CEO of Crossroads Community Hospital in Mount Vernon, Ill.
Gateway Regional Medical Center is a 343-bed hospital with a 100-bed behavioral health unit. The hospital and its predecessors have served the community for more than 100 years. Gateway’s services include emergency, orthopedics, home health and hospice, occupational health, and women and newborn health.