TAMC has put together a team to lead the charge to make TAMC the only hospital north of Bangor to hold an accreditation as an American Heart Association Certified Heart Failure and Stroke Center.

TAMC

 

Medical center officials announced they were seeking this certification at a press conference today. May happens to be the month the American Heart Association designated to spread awareness for strokes, and it’s also National High Blood Pressure Month. These two designations, along with the start of National Hospital Week, National Nursing Home Week, and Women’s Health Week, made the second Monday in May the ideal time for TAMC to publicly announce it will seek accreditation from AHA.

“It is appropriate that we are ready to announce our efforts in May when stroke and high blood pressure are highlighted. High blood pressure is not only a form of heart disease, but a risk factor in the development of both stroke and heart failure. It provides us with a great opportunity to educate people about healthy lifestyle and limiting or preventing risk factors that can lead to stroke and heart failure,” said Deborah Adams, RN, BS, TAMC manager of cardiology, cardiovascular services and post anesthesia care.

Adams, who has been involved in the treatment and education of patients with heart and blood vessel disease for over 30 years, is one of the team members leading this project.

“I have seen the devastating effects on the patients and their families living with and dying from these diseases. Attaining certification in the care of patients with heart failure and stroke indicates that we have the tools and the ability to educate people in the prevention as well as the treatments,” said Adams.

TAMC will actively work towards meeting the American Heart Association’s “Get with the Guidelines” goals for hospitals to offer faster delivery of treatment by having access to a number of professional and community education resources and the most up-to-date research, scientific publications and data.

Daryl Boucher, EdD, RN, NREMTP, director of emergency and critical care services says, “Working to become certified by the American Heart Association is important because it is an external verification that our patients are receiving the best care possible. Small, rural hospitals are held to the same standard as larger urban facilities. This simply assures that we are following best practices, and research has consistently shown that patients who are cared for by hospitals and providers who follow these best practices have better long term outcomes."

According to the American Heart Association website, 785,000 Americans suffer strokes each year. Every 15 minutes faster that a patient receives treatment reduces his or her chance of dying from a stroke by 5 percent. By following the steps in the Get with the Guidelines program, TAMC will implement 10 best practices identified to help improve treatment time for stroke and heart failure patients and work towards identifying their own best practices, all with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of service to their patients.

“We want to make sure that people know the symptoms of a stroke and get to a facility that can diagnose and treat them as quickly as possible. When dealing with stroke, just as with a heart attack, time is the determining factor for positive outcomes,” said Adams.

TAMC began researching the process to obtain certification for a heart failure center about three years ago, but lacked sufficient resources at that time. Still, the idea was important enough to continue pursuing because TAMC cares enough about the rural communities they serve to offer as many of the best services they can, according to, Roland Joy, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. Adding the stroke center certification to the equation made it possible to combine resources and link the two diseases to benefit as many patients as possible.

“As the largest hospital and the primary center for care in The County, we certainly feel like we owe it to the community to keep as many procedures as possible in The County so people don’t have to travel as far. We feel a commitment to the community to offer as many services as we safely can. We have a very strong commitment to patient care and quality of care and to be able to offer that to the folks of Aroostook County,” said Joy.

Another team leader, Carrie Haas, RN, says the certification will reassure the communities TAMC services that the hospital is providing a quality level of care for its patients.

“The American Heart Association sets certain patient care quality and health care achievement measures for us to meet as a health care facility. When we do these things at a certain percentage we qualify to be at a certified level. We already provide excellent patient care. This just shows the public to a higher degree that we are certified in our good patient care. It is a program that proves that we adhere to evidence-based patient care for patients hospitalized with stroke and heart failure,” said Haas.

For more information on the Get with the Guidelines for hospitals treating stroke and heart failure patients, visit the American Heart Association website at heart.org.