Cardiac Center Director Takes Distinction to Heart

The combined efforts of a small army of doctors, nurses, technicians and local fire department personnel have earned Wheeling Hospital the distinction of being the 14th hospital in the country to become an accredited “Mission: Lifeline Heart Attack Receiving Center” for its treatment of patients with the most severe type of heart attack.

During a press conference at the hospital Thursday, Dr. Robert Fanning, director of the Wheeling Hospital Cardiac Care Center, pointed out that the accreditation was jointly granted by the American Heart Association and the Society of Chest Pain Centers.

In addition to the accreditation process, the hospital’s status as the region’s only Certified Chest Pain Center with percutaneous cardiac intervention – also known an balloon angioplasty and stents – was renewed for another three years by the Society of Chest Pain Centers.

Fanning said that these certifications point to the level of work that a team of medical personnel and many others involved in the operation of the hospital accomplish each day. He also credited Ron Violi, the hospital’s chief executive officer, with opening the door to making the cardiac center a reality for the hospital.

“The cath lab is not just bricks and mortar. It’s people,” Fanning said pointing to conference room filled with hospital personnel and representatives from the Wheeling Fire Department and St. Clairsville’s Cumberland Trail Fire Department.

Fanning said the hospital achieved the accreditation because of the intensive efforts of those who contributed to and collected the data that establishes the level of care provided patients in the hospital and even while en route to the facility via local fire department ambulances.

Andrea Dobkin, nurse manager of Wheeling Hospital’s Cardiac-Neurovascular Center and coordinator of the Chest Pain Center, along with Patricia Holden, quality management coordinator, and Carol Poludniak at the cardiac center, are responsible for collecting and compiling the data that had led to the hospital’s accreditations.

“It’s not just the work we do in the emergency/trauma center and cardiac cath lab, it’s also what we do in the community to educate the public about heart attack symptoms and what to do. It’s this complete package that is helping us make headway in the community,” Fanning noted.

He praised Wheeling Fire Chief Larry Helms and Cumberland Trail Fire Chief Ken Saffell for their departments’ training efforts regarding CPR. Fanning touted the professionalism of the fire personnel who treat heart attack victims while transporting them to the hospital and how they relay pertinent information to hospital personnel while en route.

“The Wheeling Fire Department has done a yeoman’s job teaching CPR, quietly, continuously but like a bulldozer,” Fanning said. “Chief Saffell implemented a program to get EKG leads in the fire department ambulances in Belmont County, and he got that done.”

Saffell said the EKG equipment was made possible through funding from the Virginia Gasaway estate. He said all 17 fire departments in Belmont County have the capability to communicate EKG information with Barnesville, East Ohio Regional and Belmont Community hospitals, and now Wheeling Hospital.

According to Fanning, Chest Pain Center with PCI-recertification means that “Wheeling Hospital demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and undergoing an onsite review by a team of Society of Chest Pain Centers accreditation review specialists.”