Gold Level Heart Attack and Stroke Care at UConn Health

UConn Health (UConn Photo)
UConn Health (UConn Photo)

The American Heart Association (AHA) has once again bestowed gold level honors upon UConn John Dempsey Hospital for its continued excellence in heart attack and stroke care.

In fact, 2020 marks the sixth straight year that the hospital has received the highest gold honors for heart attack care and the fourth year in a row for stroke care.

This year UConn Health has been awarded the AHA Mission: Lifeline® Gold-Plus Receiving Quality Achievement Award for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) heart attack care and the AHA’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus & Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll Award.

“I’ve watched our stroke program grow over the years under Dr. Sanjay Mittal and his whole team. It’s an amazing program,” said Dr. Andy Agwunobi, CEO of UConn Health. “Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the country and UConn Health is on the forefront of addressing that. I want to thank the whole stroke team, neurosurgery and everyone that has been involved in getting the Stroke Gold Plus and Stroke Elite Honor Roll Award from the American Heart Association.”

Agwunobi added: “Also, I want to thank the door-to-balloon STEMI heart attack team. This is really about saving people’s lives and once again you’ve proven that our hospital is one of the best in the nation for this type of care.”

Heart Attack Care Excellence
UConn is being recognized once again for its excellent care of STEMI, the most life-threatening heart attack that each year strikes more than 250,000 people. STEMI occurs when blood flow to a portion of the heart is completely blocked. Unless the blockage is removed quickly, the patient’s heart muscle begins to die, and their health and life are in serious danger.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in fast, high quality, and lifesaving STEMI heart attack patient care at UConn Health, and their continued commitment to excellence,” shared Dr. Bruce T. Liang, director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health.

UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s multifaceted team including paramedics, Emergency Department personnel, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory staff, and interventional cardiac specialists who are on standby 24/7 to offer patients lifesaving heart attack care and treatments at a moment’s notice inside the cardiac catheterization lab at UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center.

“Six consecutive years of AHA Gold Level honors for emergency heart attack care is an impressive track record that speaks to the dedication and excellence of the EMS, Emergency Medicine, and interventional cardiology teams devoted to making this a success,” said Dr. Scott Allen, medical director of Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety, Chief Quality Officer and Chief Medical Officer (Interim) at UConn John Dempsey Hospital.

If ambulance paramedics suspect a patient is having a STEMI heart attack based on an electrocardiogram test (EKG), a STEMI Alert is radioed immediately to UConn John Dempsey Hospital from the patient’s home or location to activate the Emergency Department and the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory to be prepared to treat the heart attack patient. Even if it is in the middle of the night, on-call staff will be at the ready to care for the patient.

Once a STEMI patient arrives to UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s ED they are swiftly taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab for a lifesaving minimally invasive procedure known as a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) to open any narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. UConn Health’s interventional cardiology team are well-known for their pioneering use of minimally invasive cardiac interventions through a patient’s wrist artery rather than via traditional groin artery access.

UConn Health is an accredited AHA Mission: Lifeline Heart Attack Receiving Center.

Stroke Team Receives Top Honor Again
800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year. This means a stroke strikes someone in the U.S. every 40 seconds. Also, stroke takes the lives of 129,000 people a year, is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., and the number one major cause of adult disability.

UConn Health’s American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®– Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

“We are so proud of this accomplishment,” said Dr. Sanjay Mittal, medical director of the UConn Health Stroke Center. “Time is of the essence when it comes to strokes, and improving patient outcomes by providing clot-busting treatment in a timely manner is our goal in every instance. To be recognized for the hard work our team provides day after day, we are truly humbled and thankful for the acknowledgement.”

UConn Health has earned a gold level award four years in a row by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health, get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions

“UConn Health is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients by implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke initiative,” said Jennifer Sposito, RN, MSN, stroke coordinator at the UConn Health Stroke Center. “We are proud of our multidisciplinary team on a well-deserved award showcasing our clinical excellence as a Stroke Center.”

Key members of the multidisciplinary stroke team span across the fields of emergency medicine, neurology, neurosurgery, imaging and pharmacy.

Mittal adds: “I am so proud of our nursing team without whose help these awards would not possible.”

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks and strokes. The initiative provides tools, training and other resources to support patient care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.