At its annual Summer Meeting last week, the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) presented its prestigious Community Leadership Award to Cartersville Medical Center in Cartersville for its program that improved the care of cardiac and neurological services patients. Cartersville Medical Center President and CEO Keith Sandlin was there to accept the award on behalf of the hospital.

As part of an overarching goal to improve patient outcomes for cardiac and neurological services patients, Cartersville Medical Center implemented best practices related to coordinating better communication among emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, physicians and hospital service line leadership. To meet this goal, the hospital formed an EMS Advisory Committee whose members developed better communication strategies. When EMS staff can quickly and easily tell the hospital the status of a patient and what that patient needs, the hospital can prepare for the patient without delay, resulting in better patient outcomes.

Additionally, the hospital wanted to educate the community on the importance of using EMS transport in cardiac and neurological emergencies such as a stroke or heart attack. In these situations, every minute counts when it comes to treatment, which is why calling an ambulance instead of driving to the hospital is so critical. However, concerns about the cost of ambulance transport and a lack of knowledge that emergency care begins with EMS were some reasons why patients and their loved ones believed the best option was to drive to the hospital. Many people did not realize that life-saving treatment begins in the ambulance. To educate the community, the hospital held several outreach efforts, including health fairs and screenings and a women’s heart health luncheon. To emphasize the importance of potentially life-saving early intervention, an advertising campaign was launched that explained cardiac symptoms and the importance of seeking care promptly.

Since the launch of the effort, the hospital has seen an increase in the amount of 911 calls made each year and an improvement in core measures for cardiac and neurological services patients. The EMS involvement in the community has increased due to its dedication to raising awareness about the importance of EMS field work.

“The efforts of the staff of Cartersville Medical Center has resulted in better communication between EMS and the hospital, which has significantly improved coordination of care and patient outcomes,” said GHA President Earl Rogers. “Cartersville Medical Center has made a difference in the lives of cardiac and neurological patients and is most deserving of this award.”