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Emanuel reaches milestone with cardiac designation
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When a heart attack strikes the time it takes for treatment to be given is of critical importance. Now that Emanuel Medical Center has been certified as a receiving center for heart attack patients, the time it takes to get to a hospital is even less.

As of Sunday, Emanuel Medical Center has been designated an official receiving center for heart attack patients, meaning ambulances can now bring cardiac patients to Emanuel, instead of passing up the Turlock hospital for Modesto. 

The new designation comes from the Mountain-Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency, which oversees and regulates emergency care systems in Stanislaus County. The agency conducted an independent review of Emanuel’s emergency cardiac care procedures in October and determined they met all appropriate standards.

 “It gives me great pleasure to designate Emanuel Medical Center as a STEMI Receiving Center for Stanislaus County,” said Richard Murdock, executive director of the Mountain-Valley EMS Agency.

The designation completes the launch of the hospital’s new cardiovascular program. The hospital opened its Cardiac Cath and Interventional Lab in April 2010. A month later the hospital performed its first-ever open heart surgery.

“This is an important milestone in Emanuel’s cardiac care program and a very special day for the community,” said Emanuel President and CEO John Sigsbury. “For the first time, someone having a heart attack in Turlock can be treated in Turlock, where care is just minutes away and not miles down the highway.”

Although the hospital has been treating heart attack patients since May of last year, those patients had all arrived at Emanuel on their own. With the new designation, ambulances can also deliver patients having a heart attack directly to Emanuel. The new designation will apply to people living in Turlock, Denair, Hilmar and other nearby communities.

A heart attack occurs when the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle itself become blocked. If that blockage is cleared quickly, the heart can recover. If it’s not, permanent damage to the heart occurs.

“When someone is having a heart attack, minutes equal muscle,” Sigsbury said. “Every second counts.”

The addition of another designated heart attack treatment center is of importance to Stanislaus County because it routinely ranks high in the number of occurrences and deaths. A Stanislaus County Public Health report completed in 2009 identified that more people die each year from cardiovascular/heart disease in Stanislaus County than from any other cause in the county and  within California.

In the last decade, Stanislaus County has consistently ranked among the top three worst counties in the state in death rates due to heart disease, according to the report’s findings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year in the United States. On average, someone in the United States suffers a heart attack every 26 seconds and someone dies from a heart attack every minute, the CDC reports.

The next phase of Emanuel’s cardiac program is opening two new cardiac operating suites – including a cutting-edge hybrid room where the surgical table is integrated with an interventional radiology scanner normally found in a catheterization lab. That integration allows one surgeon to control both the table and the scanner, and will allow Emanuel doctors to treat two emergency patients at once.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.