Texas Health Fort Worth Becomes First U.S. Hospital to Earn Prestigious Certification
February 07, 2020
Facility awarded Primary Heart Attack Center gold seal by The Joint Commission

FORT WORTH, Texas — Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark for Primary Heart Attack Center Certification. Texas Health Fort Worth became the first facility in the nation to earn the prestigious award on Dec. 30, 2019.

“It’s definitely an honor to be the first hospital in the country to earn this distinction, but only because it confirms we’re doing what’s best for our patients,” said Joseph DeLeon, Texas Health Fort Worth hospital president. “These efforts to continuously strive for excellence demonstrate the commitment and compassion of all involved — from the physicians on the medical staff, to nurses, to each and every hospital employee.”

To earn the newly created certification, Texas Health Fort Worth underwent a rigorous, unannounced onsite review last fall. During the visit, reviewers evaluated the quality of the hospital’s treatment of STEMI – one of the most common and lethal types of heart attacks. STEMI, or ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, is a major heart attack caused by a complete blockage of one of the heart’s main arteries.

“All aspects of our program, from diagnosis to monitoring to treatment of these heart attacks, were scrutinized,” said DeLeon, “and we’re proud to be recognized for fast, quality care in this case, where every second counts.”

As a Primary Heart Attack Center, Texas Health Fort Worth has shown that it has the necessary resources and manpower to provide percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) — a procedure used to address blocked arteries — to heart attack patients, 24 hours, seven days a week.

According to The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association, key characteristics of the Primary Heart Attack Center Program include:

  • Focusing on symptom onset and first medical contact (pre-hospital and upon arrival), emergency medical services, catheterization laboratories and inpatient settings
  • Providing continuous on-site PCI coverage for STEMI patients
  • Keeping door-to-balloon (D2B) times within 90 minutes or less, per guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association

The door-to-balloon time references the critical moments between a patient’s arrival at the hospital to when the patient undergoes a PCI procedure in the cardiac catheterization lab and blood flow is restored to the patient’s heart when a tiny balloon on the end of the catheter is inflated, pushing open the clogged artery.

“When we can achieve a door-to-balloon time under 90 minutes, it often means a better outcome for the patient,” said Susan Fruge', Texas Health Fort Worth’s Cardiovascular Quality Outcomes and Chest Pain coordinator. “This certification holds us accountable for continuously and effectively addressing the needs of STEMI patients. And that’s the ultimate goal – seeing patients survive and hopefully thrive after a heart attack.”

Despite the rigorous review process, John Willard, M.D., agrees. Willard, an interventional cardiologist on the Texas Health Fort Worth medical staff, also serves as medical director of Cardiovascular Services at the hospital. Willard, also a member of Consultants in Cardiology, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice,* noted that Joint Commission reviewers also conducted onsite observations and interviews during the review process; but in the end, the hard work was gratifying.

“Restoring normal blood flow to someone’s heart as soon as possible is imperative, and it’s worth all of the team effort,” Willard said. “It means effective and constant communication in the field between paramedics and the hospital to achieve accurate heart attack diagnosis. Even before the patient enters the hospital doors, the emergency department and cath lab must be on the same accord. Medical experts are often quoted as saying ‘time is muscle,’ and with someone in the U.S. having a heart attack every 40 seconds, getting immediate care can be a matter of life or death.”

And recent numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services estimates more than 740,000 adults in Texas reported ever having a heart attack. According to Kirk King, who serves as Texas Health Resources’ Hospital Channel chief operating officer, Texas Health Fort Worth’s recent certification demonstrates the hospital’s strong commitment to treating the potentially fatal condition.

“Proper diagnosis and treatment for a heart attack is critical, and this certification shows how we’re continuously going above and beyond to care for North Texans by providing quality cardiovascular care,” King said.

Follow this link to learn more about comprehensive heart and vascular services at Texas Health Fort Worth.

*Physicians employed by Texas Health Physician Group practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Resources hospitals. 

About Texas Health Resources

Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 27 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,000 licensed hospital beds, 6,200 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 23,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.

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