Harris Methodist Walls Regional Uses Established Protocol to Treat Heart Attack Patients
08/18/2008

CLEBURNE, Texas – During a heart attack, time is muscle.

The more time you lose, the more heart muscle you lose. The race against the clock is even more of a factor for patients who live in rural areas and may not have immediate access to a tertiary care facility. Now, patients who live in Cleburne and the surrounding area may have a new source of hope.

Over the past year, Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital (HMWR) has partnered with the Harris Methodist Heart Center at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital to develop a ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) protocol. It allows patients who are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack to be evaluated, and, if necessary, transferred by air ambulance to the Harris Methodist Heart Center for immediate intervention in the cardiac catheterization lab.

“When patients are experiencing a heart attack the closest hospital is the best one to go to,” said Dr. David Parrish, cardiologist with Consultants in Cardiology, an independent physician group. “STEMI protocol ensures that patients receive high-quality treatment and evaluation without driving to a larger facility.”

The steps of the STEMI protocol include:*

  1. Protocol activation - notify the Harris Methodist Heart Center that a Level I heart attack patient is on the way
  2. Nurse communication – the emergency nurse at the rural hospital calls the nurse clinician at the Harris Methodist Heart Center to activate the Level I cardiac team and begin the admissions process of the patient
  3. Activate CareFlite – the transfer of the patient begins
  4. Administer emergency medication to the patient
  5. Preparation - the nurse clinician at the Harris Methodist Heart Center prepares the cardiac catheterization lab for the patient
  6. Patient transfer - the patient is transferred from the helicopter to the cath lab

* - Many of these steps are happening concurrently

“It is a race against the clock, because heart muscle is dying during the time it takes you to re-establish blood flow,” said Sreenivas Gudimetla, medical director of the Harris Methodist Heart Center. “If you can get patients to the cath lab quickly, research shows that opening a blocked artery mechanically is better than clot-dissolving medications, also known as thrombolytic therapy. However, getting patients to the cath lab fast enough is not easy to do. This streamlined protocol attempts to address that problem.”

Since the protocol began, 11 Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital patients have been treated.

“As part of the Texas Health Resources system, Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital patients can draw on the broader resources of the nonprofit health system,” HMWR President Blake Kretz said. “Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital patients can visit their local hospital and receive top-notch care.”

About Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital
Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital is affiliated with Texas Health Resources and is a full-service, 137-bed acute care hospital with more than 70 physicians on the medical staff. Honors bestowed on Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital include:

  • Received the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement Award from TMF in 2005 and 2006
  • Received the highest level of accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for 2004-2007
  • 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award
  • 2007 Premier Award for Quality for Heart Failure

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR’s system of 13 hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System, and a medical research organization. THR is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit www.texashealth.org.