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East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center earns AHA Quality Award

May 13, 2013 by Barbara Dunn

GREENVILLE — The East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center has received the Get With The Guidelines® – Heart Failure Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. The recognition signifies that The East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center has reached an aggressive goal of treating heart failure patients according to the guidelines of care recommended by the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology.

       This marks the third consecutive year that the Heart Institute has been recognized with the Gold quality achievement award. 

       “The East Carolina Heart Institute Heart Failure Program uses a multidisciplinary team approach to provide timely, evidence-based care that helps patients succeed in better managing their conditions,” said Dr. Randolph Chitwood Jr., director of the Heart Institute and professor of cardiovascular surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

       Chitwood said early recognition of increasing symptoms, as well as access to care by a skilled heart failure team, often prevents hospitalizations.

      “This is a result of teamwork among doctors, advanced practice providers, and hospital staff who promote nationally sound outcome-related treatment guidelines,” Chitwood added. “This American Heart Association award signifies that our heart failure program is among the best nationally.”

      “The East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center is dedicated to making our care for heart failure patients among the best in the country,” said Steve Lawler, president of Vidant Medical Center. “The American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines–Heart Failure award recognizes and celebrates our team’s commitment to excellence.”

      Get With The Guidelines–Heart Failure helps The East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center staff develop and implement acute and secondary prevention guideline processes to improve patient care and outcomes. The program provides hospitals with a web-based patient management tool, best-practice discharge protocols and standing orders, along with a robust registry and real-time benchmarking capabilities to track performance.

      The quick and efficient use of guideline procedures can improve the quality of care for heart failure patients, save lives and ultimately, reduce health care costs by lowering the recurrence of heart attacks. 

      “Recent studies show that patients treated in hospitals participating in the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure program receive a higher quality of care and may experience better outcomes,” said Lee H. Schwamm, M.D., chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of the TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass. “The team at the East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center is to be commended for their commitment to improving the care of patients.”

      Following Get With The Guidelines–Heart Failure treatment guidelines, heart failure patients are started on aggressive risk-reduction therapies if needed, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, aspirin, diuretics and anticoagulants while in the hospital. Before discharge, they also receive education on managing their heart failure and overall health, including lifestyle modifications and follow-up care. Hospitals must adhere to these measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for the achievement awards.

      According to the American Heart Association, about 5.7 million people suffer from heart failure.  Statistics also show that, each year, 670,000 new cases are diagnosed, and more than 277,000 people will die of heart failure. However, many heart failure patients can lead full, enjoyable lives when their conditions are managed with proper medications and devices and with healthy lifestyle changes.

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