The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has recognized St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth and Essentia Health-Fargo as STEMI Receiving Centers. According to the MDH, this important recognition is awarded to “hospitals with personnel, infrastructure and expertise to diagnose and treat STEMI patients who require intensive medical and surgical care, specialized tests or interventional therapies.”
STEMI, or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, affects more than 250,000 Americans each year. It is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries — one of the arteries that supply oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle — is blocked. It is a profoundly life-threatening medical emergency and usually associated with a disease process called atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease.
Patients experiencing acute STEMI are at risk of developing life-threatening arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation, which causes sudden cardiac arrest, sometimes referred to as a “massive heart attack.” These patients require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation, a “shock” to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Patients that suffer from a STEMI have mere minutes to receive the necessary treatment, with “estimates that two-thirds of STEMI patients fail to get the best available treatment to restore blood flow to the heart.”
There is a direct relationship between the amount of time a heart artery is blocked and the severity of the heart attack and odds of survival. Cardiologists have a mantra that “time is muscle” to express the importance of early treatment.
This sentiment was expressed in a statement from Essentia Health upon receiving the recognition, by Richard Mullvain, the STEMI program manager at St. Mary’s Medical Center. “When it comes to a STEMI, time is muscle. The faster a STEMI patient can get to a hospital to open a blocked artery, the faster we can save them. Minnesotans are fortunate that most hospitals already provide very good heart attack care, but there are always opportunities for improvement. The STEMI Receiving Center designation challenges hospitals to raise the bar and provide even better care.”
Brittney Urvand, the cardiovascular program manager in Fargo, in a statement from Essentia Health, said, “We chose to seek STEMI Receiving Center designation because it gives us added support for our accreditation, and it allows us to expand support and recognition on the Minnesota side.”
Jordan Schroeer, media relations specialist at Essentia Health expressed that it is the goal of Essentia to best serve rural communities with quality care and understanding the “challenges of coordinating and providing excellent heart attack care.”
In the statement from Essentia Health, Mullvain said, “It requires teamwork, collaboration and communication with many partners to optimize the care of STEMI patients. It’s a reminder to all of the hard work that’s been done to create plans that are effective and to remain dedicated to working together for the best outcomes possible.”
Both St. Mary’s and Essentia Health-Fargo are hospitals under Essentia Health, an integrated health system serving patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho.