New cardio accreditation at PRMC

Cardiovascular surgeons Bryan Waits, left, and Jason Loftin, center, are assisted in the Catheterization Center by Keefer Preece, right, cardiovascular technician.

Corazon, Inc., a national leader in services for the cardiovascular specialty based in Pittsburgh, Pa., has granted accreditation to the “Percutaneous Coronary Intervention” (PCI) program at Peterson Regional Medical Center.

Through a rigorous process, the accreditation proves that the program at PRMC has met or exceeded the societal guidelines of the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention.

“Angiography” can be defined as making pictures of blood vessels.

This accreditation is relative to offering PCI as a procedure, in a facility without open heart surgery in providing 24-hour coverage for PCI emergencies, undergoing detailed quarterly quality reviews to ensure outcomes and practices are met or exceed these national standards.

Two of the doctors in this department at PRMC are Bryan S. Waits, M.D., and Jason L. Loftin, M.D., assisted by Keefer Preece, cardiovascular technologist.

PRMC has demonstrated through their accreditation survey that they are committed to providing the highest quality level of care to their patient community, according to Corazon, Inc.

Their notification to PRMC said, “Their dedication, hard work and exceptional leadership has afforded this opportunity in engaging their entire hospital team, enhancing their cardiac service line, thus allowing them to excel through achieving this accreditation.”

Waits said the PRMC team in Kerrville now holds the only PCI certification between hospitals in San Antonio, Austin, San Angelo, El Paso and Lubbock.

Waits and Loftin said coronary interventions first began to be used in the 1970s, a procedure to dialate blood vessels during a coronary emergency, but it didn’t always work.

There was an improvement in the procedure when they could “crimp” the vessels with stents, and create a scaffold for the vessels. Waits said this idea was born on somebody’s kitchen table.

“In the beginning, this procedure was done in specialized cardiac surgery centers, until it became safe enough about 10 years ago to be done in a non-surgery center,” he said.

The doctors said in their world, a STEMI is used for a 100-percent block in an artery; and when this is done within 90 minutes of the blockage, it’s usually successful.

“Now Kerrville heart patients stay here for their care – no ambulance or medical helicopter to San Antonio. And now we’re treating patients from across at least five other nearby counties,” Waits said. “We are committed to provide the best quality care in the community.”

He and Loftin said Corazon, Inc., does the evaluation of all the parts of the PRMC program, including the laboratory equipment; proper order sets; tertiary care agreements; clinical staff education and credentials; then clinical analyses to be compared to other sites’ programs.

The PRMC facility submits data to the American College of Cardiology for their data registry.

Loftin said they have a “quality committee meeting” quarterly and Corazon, Inc., also did an external case review.

“We got feedback on any deficiencies by reviewing select cases, under HIPPA confidentiality and a liaison to the state DSHS and other regulatory bodies of the American College of Cardiology.”

The doctors said basically if there’s a narrowing in an artery, their job is to open it in a timely manner.

“The ‘door to balloon’ time is 90 minutes according to the national standard,” Loftin said. “The shorter the duration, the better.”

They said the primary symptoms to be treated are chest pain, shortness of breath and cardiac arrest. And locally it’s best when the EMS crew can transmit EKGs from the ambulance to the Emergency Room and Cardiology before the ambulance arrives at the hospital.

They said the most likely patients they would see are men 40 years of age and older; and women age 65 and up. Obesity is one contributing factor, and cardiology problems are under-diagnosed.

Waits said he does some community outreach to get future patients to get help sooner; and he has talked to EMS personnel about their standard of care.

He and Loftin said at the present time under COVID precautions, they know there is a fear among area residents about leaving their homes to go to the hospital for anything; and they want everyone to be aware that any cardiology symptoms mean, don’t sit at home with chest pains for fear of getting COVID.

“Now you and we know what’s going on and now we also can do elective cases. Don’t delay getting the care you need,” Waits said.

The doctors said they went for the accreditation because they want to be the best in their specialty.

Some patients get “cardiogenic shock,” they said; and the doctors can implant an “impella,” a device to take the stress off the ventricle. It takes blood from the heart, and pumps it to the aorta, out of the heart.

“It allows the ventricle to rest and gives the heart time to recover,” Loftin said.

They said they have patients in the catheterization lab seven days a week now, for various procedures.

And for the PCIs they now are accredited for, they are available 24/7/365.

Preece, as a cardiovascular technologist, must be prepared to scrub in, on any case; and he gets everything ready for Waits and/or Loftin.

Accrediting agency

As an accrediting agency on behalf of the Texas Department of State Health Services, Corazon, Inc. also offers consulting, recruitment and interim management for the heart, vascular, neuroscience, spine and orthopedic specialties. The firm has worked with more than 600 hospitals nationally to evaluate, re-engineer or implement best practice PCI programs. The release said Corazon is a long-time champion for PCI without onsite open-heart surgery; and assisted with the opening of the first PCI program of this type in Pennsylvania more than 12 years ago.

Corazon also has been a verifier for PCI programs in Georgia for several years, and was instrumental in building a consortium of hospitals to drive the legislative changes in Pennsylvania.

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