More than 1,300 medical professionals and first responders crowded into the conference space at Chateau Elan as two heart attack survivors, Donald Brewer and Dustin Altom, explained how rapid heart attack response saved their lives.
"I was out walking one day last year and suddenly went into cardiac arrest. I don't remember much after that, but learned how lucky I was that a nurse on the street saw me fall, administered CPR and called 9-1-1. I wasn't supposed to survive, but these people saved my life," said Brewer. "I'm personally blessed, and so is the rest of the community, to have this unique system of care available to heart attack patients."
Brewer and Altom spoke during the 9th Annual Northeast Georgia STEMI Summit, hosted last Friday by Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) which is rated Georgia's #1 Heart Hospital for 12 years in a row. The Summit brings together paramedics, emergency medical services (EMS) staff, nurses and physicians from across the state to discuss the Northeast Georgia Regional STEMI System a collaborative effort providing critical care and rapid response for people experiencing severe heart attacks, known as Segment-T Elevation Myocardial Infarctions (STEMIs) and patients who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
"Since 2009, the STEMI System has grown from a one-county, one-hospital service to a 17-county, 13-hospital service, and serves as a leading example of quality STEMI care for our nation," said Jason Grady, STEMI Coordinator for NGMC. "These caregivers take information they learn at the Summit and use it to save the lives of heart attack patients in their communities."
As the Summit was in progress Friday, the Georgia House of Representatives voted 156 to one in favor of adopting Senate Bill 102 which provides for the establishment of emergency cardiac care centers and the establishment of the Office of Cardiac Care within the Georgia Department of Public Health. The bill was spearheaded by Jeffrey Marshall, MD (The Heart Center of NGMC) and Deborah Bailey, director of governmental affairs, at Northeast Georgia Health System. Sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller and Rep. Lee Hawkins, the bill outlines the criteria medical centers must meet for each of the three levels of designations to provide cardiac care. The bill will be presented to Gov. Nathan Deal for signature as the last step in the legislative process.
"I can't overstate how critical these emergency cardiac care centers are to saving lives," said Jeffrey Marshall, MD, medical director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at NGMC. "They are going to change how heart care is delivered across the state, and will increase the number of people who survive STEMIs exponentially."
Statistics show that patients experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have a less than 10 percent chance of survival. However, when these patients are treated by a system of care that includes coordinated responses from EMS, hospital emergency departments, cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, their chances increase to greater than 50 percent.
Learn more at www.nghs.com/heart-services or by calling 770-219-3840.