Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. Lifestyle and genetics play a big role in that statistic, but hospitals across the nation are working hard to correct it. The Avera Heart Hospital is just one of many.
"Yeah I started before this building was even built!" Said Herb Tammen.
Herb is no stranger to the Avera Heart Hospital, not just because he volunteers in the waiting room but because he's also been a patient several times over.
"I had bypass surgery a couple of times and a whole bunch of stents, 12 to be exact." Said Tammen.
Over the years he's seen first hand the quality of care patients receive at the hospital.
So he wasn't too surprised the hospital was once again accredited as a chest pain center.
"Being a cardiovascular specialty hospital we were the first hospital in the region to go after this certification and achieve it" Said Dr. Jeff Anderson, an emergency physician at the Avera Heart Hospital.
In fact it's the fourth consecutive time the hospital has been re accredited. The accreditation is for Chest Pain with PCI or Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, meaning the ability to correct chest pain symptoms through catheters or other minimally invasive procedures.
"Chest pain is a symptom it can be a symptom of something as benign as a pulled muscle or chest cold or something as serious as an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack and what we'll do if you come here is evaluate that quickly." Said Dr. Anderson.
Which is exactly what happened each time Herb came through the ER.
"I was in a bed before they even knew who I was actually I think!" Said Tammen.
Speed is critical, but so is accuracy.
If you have chest pain you can go to any hospital, but what you'll find at a hospital with chest pain accreditation is several specialties working together to quickly treat your condition.
"If we identify a life-threatening acute coronary syndrome we have the cardiac catheterization lab located adjacent to the emergency department and we're very proud of our door-to-balloon time or the time from when the patient arrives at the door complaining of chest pain until they get that artery opened up." Said Dr. Anderson.
The golden time is 90 minutes door-to-balloon; the heart hospital's average time is just 55 minutes. Being identified as an accredited chest pain center is not just a title, it's a mind set and an expectation.
"Absolutely, everybody has to be in on this and everybody from our support staff to physicians nursing it's a lot of work and they look at everything and they review charts and interview multiple people." Said Dr. Anderson.
But hospital staff can only treat the patients that come through the doors. Many times people choose to ignore their symptoms, even Herb thought about staying home a few times.
"Don't be afraid to come in, it's better to be safe than sorry!" Said Tammen.
"Time is muscle, time is cardiac muscle and the sooner that we can intervene the more we can preserve that cardiac function because it's not only morbidity but mortality. We want to save lives and we want to have people continue to have productive lives." Said Dr. Anderson.
Herb is living proof that having a heart condition doesn't mean you have to live a limited life.
Even after 33 years of various heart procedures, Herb is giving back some of the time these doctors helped save.
"They are great! That's why am here volunteering!" Said Tammen.
By being an accredited facility not only saves lives but also helps cut back on costs through shorter hospital stays and rehab visits. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.