VACAVILLE, Calif. -- Ambulance and first responders will be directed to take most Solano County heart attack patients to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield for cardiac care, thanks to a new designation for the facility announced by Solano County's Emergency Medical Services Agency.
The Fairfield hospital was designated the county's preferred hospital for severe cardiac patients after a review of the care program there.
However,patients in some areas of Vallejo and Benicia, depending on an assessment of factors like location and traffic and weather conditions, may still be taken to trauma centers outside Solano County, said Ted Selby, Emergency Medical Services Administrator for the county.
Selby said emergency responders would be directed to take patients suffering the most severe form of heart attack to the nearest designated trauma center capable of handling the emergency.
The Fairfield hospital's official designation will be as a STEMI Receiving Center. STEMI, or ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, is a severe cardiac event.
"Through careful assessment of the application, coupled with the results of the on-site review, the survey team feels NorthBay Medical Center is committed to providing excellent STEMI care to the residents of Solano County," wrote Selby in announcing the designation.
NorthBay Medical Center on Sept. 30 became the county's first trauma center. Since its trauma designation, the Emergency Department has treated on average two trauma cases per day. Seriously injured patients previously were taken by helicopter or ambulance to hospitals in Walnut Creek or Sacramento.
"As is the case with trauma patients, time is critical in treating those exhibiting the symptoms of a major heart attack," noted Kathy Richerson, vice president and chief nursing officer for NorthBay. "Being closer to home, we can provide treatment sooner and thereby save lives."
During a STEMI, one or more of the arteries that nourish the heart muscle is completely blocked by a blood clot, and as a result, the heart muscle being supplied by the affected artery begins to die. As a heart attack center, NorthBay's emergency department will be able to quickly deploy specially trained teams of nurses and cardiologists to clear the blocked artery before the damage to the heart muscle is irreversible. A team of cardiac surgeons is on call around the clock to conduct emergency open-heart surgery if it is needed.