Christiana Care recognized for outstanding stroke, heart attack and heart failure care

Christiana Care earned several new best-in-class awards from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association related to care for stroke, heart attack and heart failure, based on performance throughout 2017. Three of the awards are in Gold categories, indicating that Christiana Care has met the requirements for the award for 24 or more consecutive months.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award recognizes Christiana Hospital for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Christiana Hospital additionally received the association’s Target: Stroke Elite Plus award after meeting AHA/ASA quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA — the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

Christiana Hospital is a Comprehensive Stroke Center, the most advanced level of expertise in stroke care as certified by The Joint Commission. It is the only center to achieve this distinction within the region of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Eastern Maryland, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, outside of centers in urban Philadelphia or Baltimore.

“The Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award is a concrete way of recognizing what we can do to treat patients who suffer a stroke,” said Valerie Dechant, M.D., physician leader, Neuroscience Service Line, and medical director, Neurocritical Care and Acute Neurologic Services. “If a patient is having a brain attack, the Christiana Care stroke team is emergently activated, 24/7, to provide the most advanced care and expertise offering the best chance for recovery and minimizing stroke-related disabilities”

Speeding care for heart attacks

Christiana Care received the Mission: Lifeline Gold Receiving Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

Every year, more than 250,000 Americans experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) — the deadliest type of heart attack — caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible by either mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

Kirk N. Garratt, M.D., M.Sc.

According to Kirk N. Garratt, M.D., MSc., medical director of the Center for Heart and Vascular Health, “Between Wilmington Hospital, Middletown Emergency Department and Christiana Hospital, we manage more than 400 STEMI patients each year. This American Heart Association award shows that we’ve built a highly effective system of care for these very sick patients.”

The Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks, beginning with the 9-1-1 call to EMS transport and continuing through hospital treatment and discharge. Speed is essential in providing optimal care for a person suffering a heart attack. Typically, patients suspected of having heart attacks are carried by ambulances into the emergency room for evaluation before they’re declared a heart attack patient. This evaluation can be done quickly, but it still requires time, often 15 or 20 minutes.

In 2017, Christiana Hospital launched a “Direct To Lab” project that effectively skipped this step. Select patients with convincing symptoms and specific findings on their electrocardiograms (EKGs) make a very brief stop in the Emergency Department and are sent directly to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for care. This coordinated care plan, developed jointly by the emergency department and cardiology teams, has shortened the time to treatment for many heart attack victims, helping Christiana Care qualify for the Mission:Lifeline Gold Award.

“We’re confident that shaving 15 or 20 minutes off the time needed to stop a heart attack will let more people in our community survive and get back to productive living,” Dr. Garratt said.

The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Christiana Care met specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility.

Delivering the right care for heart failure patients

Patients with heart failure can avoid hospitalizations, reduce the risk of other organ failure and gain years of life if they receive the right medications and make the right choices about what to eat and how to live. Recommended medicines and lifestyle choices are summarized in clinical guideline documents that doctors use to direct care.

Sourin Banerji, M.D.

The American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure initiative recognizes doctors and hospitals that use these guidelines consistently. The Christiana Care Heart Failure Program was awarded the 2018 AHA Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for providing optimal care to heart failure patients consistently for more than two years.

“We’re really proud of this award because it reflects the hard work of so many members of our heart failure team,” said Sourin Banerji, M.D., medical director of the Christiana Care Heart Failure Program. “Adherence to these guidelines really do make a big difference in how well people cope with heart failure.”