Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital first in metro Atlanta to receive state’s highest designation for emergency cardiac care

Oct. 26, 2020

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ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has designated Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital as a Level I Emergency Cardiac Care Center, Georgia's highest level of emergency cardiac care. The hospital is the first in the metro area to receive the designation from the Georgia DPH, as well as only the fourth in the state.

"Being designated as a Level I Emergency Cardiac Care Center validates the comprehensive cardiac services provided to patients at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and most importantly promotes quality patient care," says Michael Balk, MD, a cardiologist and chief quality officer at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. "This designation comes from a group effort and collaboration of our doctors and advanced practice providers with other teams within the hospital."

To receive the Level I designation, a hospital must provide the highest level and most comprehensive emergency cardiac care services 24/7, 365 days a year. Those emergency services include cardiac catheterization and angioplasty to treat patients suffering from a heart attack, as well as advanced cardiothoracic surgical procedures such as implanting automatic cardioverter defibrillators and percutaneous left ventricular assist devices.

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 2017 to establish the three-level designation system to help identify a hospital’s capability of providing emergency cardiac care services and to help appropriately triage patients based on the severity of their condition. The measure also created the DPH's Office of Cardiac Care, charged with improving outcomes in Georgia for patients suffering from heart attacks.

"For patients suffering from heart attacks or other serious cardiac events, it is critically important that they receive the right care without delay," says Kevin Andrews, chief operating officer at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital. "The development of Georgia's Emergency Cardiac Care Centers helps ensure that patients in our community receive the most appropriate cardiac care to save lives. The Level I designation affirms that Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital continues to provide the highest and most comprehensive level of cardiac care."

Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital has long been at the forefront in cardiac care, performing the state’s first open heart surgery on a heart and lung machine in 1956. Today, Emory Healthcare operates one of the largest cardiothoracic (CT) surgery programs in the country and the largest in Georgia.