Cath lab receives rare accreditaiton; survivor shares story

By KBJR News 1

July 15, 2014 Updated Jul 15, 2014 at 10:29 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Heart and Vascular Center at Essentia Health St. Mary's hospital in Duluth has received a rare national accreditation for its success.

"You cannot do the job without the equipment; you cannot do the job without the people,” Dr. Lisa Abrahams, an Interventional Cardiologist said. “It's really about the team."

On Monday, Dr. Abrahams performed a coronary angiogram on 71-year-old Carl Anderson.

The procedure will likely improve his quality of life and allow him to breathe more easily.

"We do these 24 hours a day,” she said. “But we do emergency procedures all night, every night."

It was the middle of the night when Scott Tessier was treated for an acute heart attack.

"It's like an elephant sitting on your chest," he said.

At the time, 48-year-old Tessier was a healthy middle aged man.

He wasn't overweight and didn't have any known heart problems.

"I did have heart history in my family; I did have uncles who had heart attacks young,” he said. “They do believe that's what the cause was."

On a given day, Dr. Abrahams team includes a nurse who administers sedation and monitors vital signs as well as two technicians who assist with the procedure, provide supplies and run monitors.

Each has the skills to deal with a heart emergency on their own.

"Because we have a physician in the room, they don't have to do that,” Mark Johnson, Cath Lab Manager said. “But they are educated to the point where if they did come across a code and there wasn't someone running it, a patient was having a cardiac emergency, they would be able to run that code themselves."

Now, the heart and vascular center has earned an accreditation by an organization known for short as ACE.

The hospital revised and met strict patient-care and safety guidelines.

"The ACE accreditation emphasizes that, they emphasize having a team that works together and having a team that is totally prepared and totally trained to do the procedure," Dr. Abrahams said.

Even if you don’t have a history of heart problems, Tessier encourages everyone to get regular check-ups.

"Am I overweight? Am I eating wrong? Am I not taking care of myself correctly? Those are the things we have to look at."

Essentia's cath lab is the only such lab to receive this accreditation in the Midwest.

Only 22 other hospitals in the country have received the honor.

Jennifer Walch
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