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Accredited Chest Pain Center

The West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital announced in 2011 that it received Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), an international organization dedicated to eliminating heart disease as the number one cause of death worldwide. "The accreditation is ‘with PCI,' which stands for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention. This means that General Hospital is equipped and qualified to receive patients for stent and balloon procedures that open the artery and either stop or reverse a heart attack, depending on how long they have been having their heart attack," said Steven Albright, administrative director of West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center.

Hospitals that have received SCPC accreditation have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack. They emphasize the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs that provide more efficient and effective evaluation as well as more appropriate and rapid treatment of patients with chest pain and other heart attack symptoms. They also serve as a point of entry into the healthcare system to evaluate and treat other medical problems and they help to promote a healthier lifestyle in an attempt to reduce the risk factors for heart attack.

To become an Accredited Chest Pain Center, the West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center engaged in rigorous evaluation by SCPC for its ability to assess, diagnose, and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack. To the community served by Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, this means that processes are in place that meet strict criteria aimed at:

  • Reducing the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment
  • Treating patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the integrity of the heart muscle can be preserved
  • Monitoring patients when it is not certain that they are having a heart attack to ensure that they are not sent home too quickly or needlessly admitted to the hospital

"People tend to wait when they think they might be having a heart attack, and that's a mistake," states Ron Hill, vice president of Hospital Services. "The average patient arrives in the emergency department more than two hours after the onset of symptoms but what they don't realize is that the sooner a heart attack is treated, the less damage to the heart and the better the outcome for the patient."

General Hospital's state-of-the-art healthcare encompasses the entire continuum of care for the heart patient and includes such focal points as dispatch, Emergency Medical System, emergency department, cath lab, surgery, and more. West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center's quality assurance plan and community outreach awareness and prevention programs such as HEARTaware and STROKEaware are also involved in this process. By becoming an Accredited Chest Pain Center, the West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center has enhanced the quality of care for the cardiac patient and has demonstrated its commitment to higher standards.

To further patient care, in 2010, West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center initiated the West Tennessee Heart Network, which is a system of emergency departments and emergency medical transport agencies throughout West Tennessee that are committed to utilize a set of protocols to ensure rapid response to a chest pain patient. "We sought to bring care to the patient within the ‘golden time' of care and do that consistently but we realized that it couldn't just be at this hospital. That life-saving and heart-saving care had to begin as near to the patient as possible," said Albright. "Studies have shown that if the right reperfusion strategy (or opening the artery that is causing the heart attack) is performed at the right place, at the right time, a person's heart muscle is spared from traumatic damage and the chance of survival is better. Therefore, our goal is to work with hospitals, ERs, air transport, and EMS organizations from throughout West Tennessee to ensure that standard protocols are followed to provide this care as early as possible," Albright continued. "This process has come about due to concentrated efforts by local cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, and interventional cardiologists who have committed to the process of providing care to that heart attack or chest pain patient within that timeframe."

West Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center at General Hospital has performed 15,000 heart surgeries since 1983 including open heart surgery. "Sometimes the best way to fix a heart attack is open heart surgery. This is the only hospital between Memphis and Nashville that offers open heart surgery including the latest off-pump and minimally-invasive procedures," said Albright.

For more information on the accreditation of the Chest Pain Center at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, contact Chest Pain Center Coordinator Emily Gardner, RN at 731-541-6828.

Established in 1998, SCPC is a patient-centric nonprofit international organization focused on improving care for patients with heart disease. Central to SCPC's mission is the question, "What is right for the patient?" In response, SCPC promotes protocol-based medicine, often delivered through a chest pain center model, to address the diagnosis and treatment of acute coronary syndrome and heart failure and to promote the adoption of process improvement science by healthcare providers. To best fulfill this mission, SCPC provides accreditation and education to facilities striving for optimum cardiac care. SCPC is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. For more information on SCPC and accreditation opportunities, visit or call toll free 1-877-271-4176.


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