Your community hospital plays a critical role in emergency medical care
If you’ve ever suffered a life-threatening illness or injury, you know time is of the essence. Just ask Marilyn Watkins. “It was three o’clock in the morning, and I was having trouble sleeping because of pain in my upper arms and back,” said Watkins. “When I began to feel lightheaded and clammy, I knew something was terribly wrong.” Watkins, who was living near Rising Sun at the time, was rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital. “I’ve never been so scared in my life.”
The team at Highpoint Health determined Watkins had suffered a heart attack and ultimately needed a stent placed. “When it comes to heart attack, time is muscle,” said April Poole, RN, manager of the Highpoint Health Emergency Department. “The longer the blood supply to the heart is blocked, the more damage.”
After both stabilizing her medical condition and calming her fears, the emergency department team made the necessary arrangements to have Watkins quickly and efficiently transferred to Mercy West for stent placement. “Highpoint Health took charge of my situation. I’m alive today because of them,” said Watkins.
“I think there’s a common misconception that a community hospital has fallen short when a patient needs to be transferred,” said Richard Cardosi, MD, director, Highpoint Health Emergency Department. “In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While we have most of the emergency medical services you need, community hospitals aren’t equipped for some types of specialized care. In those instances, it’s our job to stabilize the patient and quickly get him or her to the appropriate care center.”
Access to expert stroke care 24/7
When a person suffers a stroke, immediate treatment is critical for preventing death and also minimizing disability. Highpoint Health follows a strict protocol for all stroke patients, which sometimes includes administering a clot-busting drug called tPA.
“I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days,” said 41-year-old Jessica Ables. “At work, things got worse. I couldn’t focus and kept dropping things. My co-workers said my face was drooping and my skin looked gray.” Ables, who actually works at Highpoint Health, immediately went to the Emergency Department, where she was given tPA. “It could have been so much worse. The quick actions of the Emergency Department staff saved my life.”
Once Ables was stabilized, she was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC) to receive ongoing treatment for what turned out to be an acute ischemic stroke in her frontal lobe. “We partner with the UCMC, the number one stroke center in the Midwest, so that patients can receive expert care around the clock,” explained Dr. Cardosi. “We use a sophisticated telemedicine system to provide remote patient assessments.” Treatment is then started based on a recommendation from a stroke team expert. This may include further testing and observation, hospital admission, or for the sickest of the sick, transferring the patient via helicopter or ambulance to a tertiary care facility.
Dr. Cardosi also expressed how important it is for a hospital to remain up-to-date with the latest stroke practices. “This spring, we’ll begin our “Stroke Ready Certification” application offered by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP). HFAP is a nationally recognized organization with deeming authority from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
Emergency services close to home
The treatment of acute illness – like heart attack and stroke – is just one of many services provided by Highpoint Health’s Emergency Department. “Our services run the entire gamut,” explained Dr. Cardosi. This includes treating adults and children suffering from broken bones, lacerations, drug overdoses, burns, severe stomach pain, shortness of breath, and allergic reactions to name just a few things. “You can have peace of mind knowing that by and large, we can provide most of the emergency services you need close to home,” said Dr. Cardosi.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Provided by:Richard Cardosi, M.D., Facility Medical Director of the Emergency Department