A skilled Good Samaritan Hospital (GSH) Emergency Department with advanced technology buys time for heart attack victims.
Randy Abshire, 68, doesn’t remember much about that morning in 2009 when his “heart went haywire.” He doesn’t remember breakfast at his favorite diner or driving to work. He doesn’t remember collapsing at his desk or his son’s call to 911.
But what he does remember, he knows for a fact—he owes his life to the speed and skill of GSH’s Emergency Department.
The chain of care began the moment the Harrison Township Fire Department arrived at Randy’s office. Communicating with the physicians at GSH, paramedics began CPR, restarted his heart with a portable defibrillator and inserted an artificial airway to restore Randy’s breathing.
Keeping First Responders Sharp
Emergency medical services (EMS) departments are an extension of the Emergency Department. In one year, GSH conducted over 150 training sessions for EMS in 10 counties. The hospital also hosts monthly programs on stroke, cardiovascular events, infection and orthopedic injuries to promote collaboration between subspecialists, Emergency Department staff and EMS responders.
Although Randy’s heartbeat was restored by the time he reached GSH, getting his pulse back is just the tip of the iceberg. The next step was figuring out what caused the problem, how to fix it and what damage control needed to be done.
Tests ruled out a major heart attack. Suspecting an irregular heartbeat, the physician immediately paged a cardiologist and began applying innovative Arctic Sun® temperature management pads to cool Randy’s body.
The body wants to heal itself, but it has many demands—to supply oxygen to the brain, the heart and the rest of the body. By cooling the body, you slow those metabolic demands and let the body do its healing work. A 2009 study found that cooling increased heart attack survival rates by more than one-third.
Unlike ice packs and water blankets, the Arctic Sun system lets physicians precisely control body temperature by circulating chilled water through the pads. And, it avoids the risk of blood clots or perforated vessels linked to the use of invasive cooling catheters.
Experienced Team on Call
Knowing that Randy needed vigilant monitoring, the doctor mobilized the Acute Changes Team, specially trained nurses who support the Emergency Department staff. The ability to draw on so many resources to help patients receive the best possible emergency care is a testament to the department’s teamwork.
In a critical situation, you can never say one person saved a life. Whether it is the physician giving orders, the respiratory therapist setting up the ventilator, the pharmacist pulling medications from the crash cart, the secretary paging the subspecialist or the nurses charting and giving medications, everyone has a role.
Communication is vital to keep the patient’s loved ones abreast of what is happening as well.
“The folks at Good Samaritan Hospital were wonderful,” said Randy’s friend, Michele Freemon, who was in the Emergency Department. “Five or six doctors and nurses came in to tell us in layman’s terms everything that was going on. Randy was hooked up to quite a bit of stuff, but they went through it all—what they were doing and why. It really gave us confidence.”
Randy spent the next few days in a semi-coma. He was moved to the Intensive Care Unit where he remained in a cooled state for 24 hours before his body was gradually warmed. A few days later, he went home with a pacemaker and defibrillator in his chest to prevent another such event.
This fall, Randy headed to the Smoky Mountains to watch the leaves turn. It is a sight he might never have enjoyed if it weren’t for the team in the GSH Emergency Department.
“The quality of emergency care at hospitals varies widely and we believe Good Samaritan Hospital is one of the nation’s quality leaders in emergency medical care. We are very proud that our emergency department employees and our medical staff, in partnership with EMS teams across the region, are ranked in the top five percent of all emergency departments in the nation. We remain committed to improving the lives of the community we serve that need emergency medical care,” said Craig Self, Vice President of Business Development.
Randy seconds that. “I can only say the greatest things about them.”