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Alameda County Medical Center Earns Important Cardiac Designation

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 11, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC www.acmedctr.org), a leading public health care provider, was designated a STEMI Receiving Center (SRC) and Cardiac Arrest Receiving Center (CARC) by the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services Agency as of December 1.

Only a quarter of U.S. hospitals have the SRC and CARC designations and ACMC is the first medical center in Alameda County to earn them in a decade. The SRC designation means that Highland Hospital is now authorized to accept patients whom paramedics identify as having a heart attack.

STEMI – which stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction – is a heart attack in which a blocked coronary artery prevents blood from getting to the heart muscle. A STEMI heart attack typically requires angioplasty for treatment, a procedure calling for insertion of a balloon in a blocked coronary artery followed by placement of a stent to keep the artery open and restore blood flow to the heart muscle.

Hospital officials estimate Highland will receive between 75 and 100 STEMI heart attack patients annually that in the past had to be transported to other hospitals. With the STEMI designation, these patients will be able to receive care faster – a key factor in survival.

"Minimizing these patients' time to treatment is a crucial factor in improving survival rates," said Dr. Thomas Frohlich, Division Chief of Cardiology and SRC Medical Director. "Ideally, angioplasty should be performed within 90 minutes or less from the time the patient presents to the Emergency Department with symptoms," he said.

Heather Duke, Director of Cardiovascular Services and Radiology for ACMC said that the new designation is an important accomplishment because, "it empowers us to save lives. This will provide better access to rapid angioplasty treatment to all residents of Alameda County," she says, adding that Highland is proud to offer these state-of-the-art medical services with a technically advanced staff, most of whom are Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists within the Cath Lab.

"The combined experience of my cath lab staff in providing these life saving procedures is often in excess of 50-60 years," said Duke. "We know how to do this, and do it well."

Cardiac care has expanded dramatically at Highland Hospital since its Interventional Services Lab, built with $2.6 million raised by the Alameda County Health Care Foundation, opened in May 2011. Achievement of the STEMI Receiving Center designation involved collaboration by physicians, nurses and staff from the Highland Hospital Emergency Department as well as the hospital's Interventional Services Lab, Intensive Care and Post Anesthesia Care units.

Another important advance made possible by the new designation is lifesaving instruction for cardiac arrest and STEMI patients and their family members who will receive Basic Life Support (BLS) training along with a BLS kit to take home and share within their community.

"Lives have been saved, outcomes improved and hundreds of patients have had more comfortable treatment with less time in the hospital thanks to these expanded services," Duke says. "With the STEMI designation secured, we are offering the highest level of cardiac care to all residents of Alameda County."

About Alameda County Medical Center

Alameda County Medical Center (www.acmedctr.org) is a nationally recognized public healthcare system with more than 2,800 employees, 500 physicians and 475 accredited beds. ACMC provides comprehensive, high quality medical treatment and compassionate care to all residents of Alameda County.

CONTACT: Monique Binkley Smith Alameda County Medical Center 510-437-4850 office 510-437-8479 mobile mbinkleysmith@acmedctr.orgSource:Alameda County Medical Center