PITTSBURGH -- Heart attack victims in Pittsburgh's eastern suburbs are about to realize a dramatic improvement in the quality of emergency care.
The Forbes Regional Campus of West Penn Allegheny Health System has provided new rapid intervention cardiac care monitors to its servicing ambulance companies in eastern Allegheny County and Westmoreland County.
The distributions, made Tuesday, served as an informal kickoff to the Ed Dardanell Heart and Vascular Center, which is scheduled to open in March at Forbes, in Monroeville.
The Philips HeartStart MRx Monitors can transmit electrocardiogram data over wireless Internet service before a patient leaves home. By the time an ambulance delivers a patient to an emergency room, an ER physician will have been able to review the EKG results and activate a catheterization lab team if indicated.
"When it comes to treating a heart attack, time saved is heart muscle saved," said Dr. Adrian D'Amico, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Forbes Regional.
"This initiative is about us and our ability to serve our community. EKG transmission shortens the door to balloon time. Earlier identification of an acute heart attack will improve patient outcome."
HeadStart monitors were provided to 10 ambulance companies: Monroeville Nos. 1, 4, 5 and 6; Jeannette; Penn Hills; Pitcairn; Penn Township; Plum; and Trafford.
The 28 monitors cost about $28,000 apiece.
"We are thrilled to be able to make this investment that reaches beyond the walls of the hospital to provide top-flight heart care to the residents of the communities we serve," said Edward M. Klaman, president and chief executive officer of West Penn Hospital.
The device is a heart monitor defibrillator with a capability to perform a 12-lead EKG in the home or ambulance and transmit electronically to a receiving station in the hospital.
"This is a big milestone for us," said Tom Moser, chief operating officer of Forbes Regional Campus. "This partnership allows us to use proven technology to facilitate and expedite treatment in the field.
"Diagnostic testing in the patient's home and electronic transmission to the hospital enable doctors to diagnose the patient and activate treatment. Time is tissue."
Gary Harvat, manager of pre-hospital systems at Forbes Regional, said: "We have a great opportunity to increase survival rates."
EKG transmission can save as many as 15 to 20 crucial minutes in the time it takes a heart attack patient to receive treatment.
Tom Izydore, operations manager of Plum Emergency Medical Services, praised the initiative as definitive treatment.
"Not every hospital has a cath lab available 24 hours a day," he said. "That is important for a patient who is having cardiac symptoms.
"All the ambulance companies greatly appreciate Forbes Regional Campus' initiative in providing this equipment. This really shows the hospital's concern for patient care.
The monitors will enhance our ability to provide quality and appropriate patient care."Dev Meyers is a freelance writer.