Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
08:49 AM

Lehigh Valley Health Network Joins the State and the Eastern PA EMS Council to Fund Improvements in Heart Attack Care

EMS organizations in five eastern Pennsylvania counties are getting upgraded technology to care for patients suffering a severe heart attack.

The state, through the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund (EMSOF), Eastern PA EMS Council, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Department of Emergency and Hospital Medicine, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute and Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono combined to provide more than $100,000 to cover most of the cost of 90 modems and data plans for EMS units to transmit electrocardiograms (EKG) from the field.

EMS agencies from Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe and Schuylkill counties will pay much less for the upgraded technology thanks to the support. LVHN is the only health network in the region to chip in with funding for the emergency services agencies in these counties.

Ambulance personnel in the mentioned counties will be able to transmit EKGs wirelessly to area emergency rooms. This will accelerate the diagnosis and expedite initiation of the life-saving care of patients suffering the most serious kinds of heart attacks, called ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, or STEMI.

Patients suspected by EMS providers of having a heart attack typically undergo a highly sensitive, 12-lead EKG performed by a first responder to confirm the diagnosis, which is often caused by a blocked heart artery.

“EKG transmission reduces the overall time to treatment by allowing the process to begin when the paramedics arrive,” said Ronald Freudenberger, MD, MBA, Physician-in-Chief, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute. “This positively impacts the outcomes of the patients and families we serve.”

If the ambulance can’t connect wirelessly to an ER via a modem, a paramedic at the scene or on route to the ER interprets an EKG, then verbally alerts a hospital emergency room physician that a heart attack is suspected. This is confirmed upon arrival at the ER by a second EKG.

Ambulances equipped with modems can transmit the EKGs immediately to the destination ERs’ medical command physician for confirmation by viewing a large digital image of the EKG. This gives the ER staff specific details about the patient and adequate time to prepare for the arrival of the patient and alert in-house heart attack team of the situation. 

In addition, the ER physician can forward the EKG to the mobile device of the interventional cardiologist who will be treating the patient. Unblocking the heart attack- causing artery quickly gives the best chance for saving the patient’s life and the heart muscle that often has been deprived of blood during the heart attack.

“Through the ongoing support of our partners from Lehigh Valley Health Network, this technology affords our highly trained EMS practitioners immediate remote access to our emergency departments, medical command physicians and cardiology teams,” said John G. Kloss, Director, Eastern PA EMS Council. “They can effectively diagnose critical cardiac dysrhythmias prior to arrival at a LVHN facility and expedite immediate intervention, effectively benefiting the patients we serve.”

About LVHN

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses - three in Allentown including the region's only facility dedicated to orthopedic surgery, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; 26 health centers caring for communities in seven counties; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices and 19 ExpressCARE locations throughout the region including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE at the Health Center at Palmer Township; pharmacy, imaging, home health services and lab services; extensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes: trauma care at the region’s busiest, most-experienced trauma center treating adults and children, burn care at the regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, orthopedics, and neurology and complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, the Lehigh Valley Heart Institute and the Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence give clinicians of the highest caliber the necessary infrastructure, programs and partnerships to help community members stay healthy and provide the most advanced treatment when needed. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a formal member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, a transformative initiative to improve the quality of care and outcomes for people with cancer in community health care settings, including access to key MSK clinical trials. Robotic surgery is offered in ten specialties across the health network with more than 14,000 procedures performed since 2008. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital and Level 4 NICU in the region, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the only hospital in the region nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for orthopedics and has been recognized among the top five hospitals in Pennsylvania for six consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are national Magnet hospitals for excellence in nursing. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on Facebook and Twitter.