Topeka is home to one of the premiere places in the country for heart health. StormontVail was recently named one of the nation's top 100 cardiovascular hospitals.
One of the four areas that earned them the honor is their response to treating heart attack patients.
"Time is muscle," said Dr. Thomas Doyle, cardiologist with Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center. "Every second, every minute, that goes by that your heart doesn't get a blood supply is heart muscle you're losing."
Doyle is part of the acute MI committee, formed by stormont six years ago to speed up treatment of heart attack patients. Doyle said the committee look at all aspects of the process, from educating the community, to waiting in the emergency room, to paging the appropriate staff.
"We break it down to the point where we know we're wasting a little bit of time by having nurses photocopy the chart before the patient goes to the cath lab, so we said we gotta stop that," Doyle said.
The committee's reviews also led to personnel changes. Some staff who'd been on call simply lived too far away to get to the hospital quickly enough to help patients. Doctors and nurses are now rewarded for responding quickly to pages and reacting swiftly to symptoms. Stormont's educated rural hospitals and doctors on the fastest routes for getting their heart patients to specialized treatment. Chart reviews have led to increased use of beta blockers, a medicine that improves patients' odds by decreasing the chances they'll suffer further heart troubles. Doyle said beta blocker use is up from around 70 percent to better than 90 percent.
Doyle said the overwhelming impact of the committee has been awareness. That's led to faster treatment for patients. The national goal is an hour and a half. At Stormont-
"From the time the patients hits the emergency room doors to the time the artery is open is less than an hour," Doyle said.
Doyle said patients make a difference, too. If you think you're suffering a heart attack, immediately call 911. Doyle said it's a difference that can make the difference between life and death.