Springfield Regional gets chest pain treatment accreditation

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The Springfield News-Sun is commited to covering health care in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper talked to area hospital offocials and local government officials about what the Springfield Regional Medical Center’s new accreditation might mean for residents.

Springfield Regional Medical Center recently received accreditation as a Chest Pain Center, meaning it meets higher standards in treating heart attack patients.

The accreditation, from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, means the hospital has processes in place to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment for patients. It also means staff members have received additional training to identify signs of heart attacks, and the hospital has a system to monitor patients when it is not clear whether they are having a heart attack to ensure they are not sent home too quickly.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death nationwide, as well as in Clark County, said Paul Hiltz, president of Community Mercy Health Partners, which operates Springfield Regional. About 600,000 people die annually of heart disease, he added.

Fewer than 800 hospitals nationwide have achieved the accreditation, Hiltz said.

“It’s nice for the community to know if they did have chest pain they would have all the testing and procedures and the best thinking around chest pain you can get in the country,” he said.

Clark County overall recently ranked near the bottom of Ohio’s 88 counties in a health study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Clark County dropped four spots, from 70th last year to 74th, in a portion of the study that measures the length and quality of life of residents.

The county did see some improvement on a separate part of the same survey that evaluated issues like social and economic factors and clinical care. The Clark County Combined Health District is also working with several area agencies to implement a Community Health Improvement Plan, which focuses on improving issues such as obesity, chronic disease management, mental health and substance abuse.

Clark County has a higher rate of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks and coronary heart disease than both Ohio and the national average, according to information from 2012 from the health district.

The accreditation process took more than a year to complete, said Rubeal Mann, medical director of the Emergency Department at Springfield Regional, who led the effort. Achieving the accreditation meant improving training and procedures from the time a patient steps into the ER or sees a paramedic until the issue is treated, he added.

For example, Springfield Regional worked more with primary care physicians to help them educate patients on what symptoms might signal a heart attack and encourage them to seek care more quickly, Mann said. Staff members also streamlined the process for patients from the time they arrived at the ER to the time they were treated, making sure patients were treated more quickly and using a set of standard procedures, he added.

The accreditation is reviewed every three years to ensure the hospital maintains those standards of care for chest pain, Hiltz said.

Springfield Regional has had a reputation for quality heart care, said Surender Neravetla, director of cardiac surgery at the hospital. The cardiac surgery program has a three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the highest rating possible, he added.

The hospital also has a lower complication rate compared to most hospitals in the state, Neravetla said. That rate includes annual data that takes into account patient mortality, as well as serious infections, or kidney or lung problems that arise after surgery.

Springfield Regional’s 2014 complication rate was about 7.3 percent, compared to a national average of about 13 percent for similar-sized departments, Neravetla said.

The hospital is in the process of seeking accreditation in other areas as well, including a possible stroke center accreditation in the future, Hiltz said.

“We’re trying to get outside validation that what we’re doing is excellent and that’s what we’re finding with these accreditations,” Hiltz said.

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