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St. Vincent’s earns exclusive accreditation

By Chris Yow

BIRMINGHAM — The St. Vincent’s Health System has earned the highest Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care’s (SCPC) heart accreditation in atrial fibrillation, heart failure and chest pain. The system is the only one in the nation to hold all three accreditations at the highest levels.

“To earn any of these accreditations is an achievement in which we take great pride,” Neeysa Biddle, Senior Vice President, Ascension Health and Birmingham Market Executive said in a release. “To be the only health system in the nation to earn the highest level in all three areas at the same time is a credit to the hard work and excellent patient care provided by the St. Vincent’s team.”

St. Vincent's EastMichael Korpiel, President and COO of St. Vincent’s East, said the accreditation is good for three years and St. Vincent’s was the first facility to be tested against the latest standards.

They renew their standards to make them a little stricter to raise the bar,” Korpiel said.

When hospitals are tested against these standards, the facilities invite the company in to do so according to Korpiel.

“This is a voluntary accreditation. We made applications to tell them we were interested in inviting them in to do a survey on us,” Korpiel said. “This was a year-long process for us to get ready and prepared for this survey. They worked with us to make sure we had all the processes in place.”

St. Vincent’s Birmingham and St. Vincent’s East each earned accreditation in Atrial fibrillation with EPS Cycle 2, meaning those two hospitals demonstrated expertise in improving outcomes by effectively aligning people and services, while also increasing  public awareness and community education through partnerships with other health care providers, care facilities, local businesses and employees. The system also provides consultation and support groups as well.

stvincentsThe same two hospitals also earned accreditation in heart failure cycle 2 by demonstrating expertise in using proven means of conducting patient treatment in a timely and effective manner and  increasing public awareness of heart failure and affecting behaviors to reduce the communities risk in this area. Also by speeding diagnosis and treatment to lessen immediate life-threatening conditions, as well as managing patient flow to minimize risk, the release read.

To gain accreditation in chest pain with primary PCI and resuscitation, cycle 5, both St. Vincent’s Birmingham and St. Vincent’s East were to demonstrate their expertise in assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly, continually seeking to improve processes and procedures, ensuring the competence and training of Accredited Chest Pain Center personnel and creating a design that promotes optimal care.

The system earned these accreditations in only seven months. The SCPC reviewed how the hospitals worked and their outreach initiatives in the community as well as the procedures used to ensure patients continued to thrive after leaving the care of the facility.

One of the community outreach programs St. Vincent’s East is implementing is going to Hewitt-Trussville High School and teaching students how to deal with chest pain and even teaching them CPR.

Part of the outreach is educating the community on how to begin to deal with a patient who is dealing with chest pains and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of someone who may be having a heart attack,” Korpiel said.

“The ultimate goal is to save people’s lives. In health care, the name of the game is quality, and we believe in order to fulfill our mission at St. Vincent’s, and in order to do the best job we can, it’s not just about lowering the price of healthcare, it’s delivering the highest quality we can.”

According to the SCPC, accredited hospitals demonstrate the ability to employ a system of handling patients in a manner that allows a shorter time between diagnosis and treatment, while also reducing patients’ length of stay both in the emergency department and when receiving inpatient care.

St. Vincent’s East plans to open a new chest pain center to allow those with emergency needs experiencing chest pains to be treated by staff trained in that area, but also to work with local Emergency Service providers to treat patients more quickly.

Korpiel said one of the areas of improvement the SCPC brought up was the relationship with local EMS providers.

We invited the EMS agencies into each one of our hospitals to look at how you take care of patients when you pick them up in an ambulance and how can we work together to begin the therapy to treating this patient while they’re in an ambulance so that when they get to the emergency room, things have already gotten started and we can continue that care.,” Korpiel said. “Instead of a patient coming in and having a heart attack and them not doing anything in the ambulance until they get to the emergency room.

“We developed a better working relationship with our EMS agencies to better take care of that patient before they even come to the emergency room.”

Korpiel said the key to chest pain is to provide medication and care within 90 minutes of the attack. He said studies have shown that if that can be accomplished, the survival rate greatly increases. St. Vincent’s East is committed to making their facility one patients can rely on quick and quality care.

“By bringing this organization in, our goal is to deliver the highest care so we have the lowest amount of morbidity and mortality for chest pain, atrial fib and heart failure in the community,” he said. “We believe if we can get that out, people will seek us because we’re delivering the best care.”


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