New Chest Pain E.R. at Shands provides patients fast, compassionate emergency cardiac care
UF&Shands leaders joined with former University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer and his wife, Shelley, today to mark the opening of the new Chest Pain E.R. at Shands.
The Archer Road facility, located within the Shands Critical Care Center Emergency Department at Shands at UF, includes eight beds devoted to patients with low to moderate chest pain or other symptoms of a heart condition and represents a more focused, patient-centered approach to emergency cardiac care. Patients will have immediate, around-the-clock access to UF cardiologists, emergency medicine specialists and specially trained mid-level practitioners in a center that is designed to optimize their evaluation and treatment.
“When people come through the doors of our Chest Pain E.R., they are the center of attention from a highly trained team of professionals dedicated to helping them get well,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System. “Patients with symptoms of a heart attack receive great medical care, with compassion. We understand that they are anxious about their symptoms, so we want to quickly provide answers and put them back on the road to good health.”
The goal is to evaluate patients within 10 minutes of their arrival, according to Preeti Jois, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine and the Chest Pain E.R. medical director. An interdisciplinary team of emergency medicine specialists and cardiologists will quickly make a diagnosis and deliver appropriate treatment.
Quick and accurate diagnoses are important for patients who are experiencing frightening symptoms and are trying to understand what is happening to them, according to Meyer, who was rushed to Shands in 2009 after having severe chest pains. Typically, only a fraction of patients entering the E.R. with chest pain are actually having a heart attack.
“The eight-bed unit is continuously staffed by a nurse and an emergency department mid-level practitioner, who has been trained by both emergency medicine and cardiology faculty,” Jois said. “One of the many roles of the mid-level practitioner is to enhance the patient’s understanding of his or her chest pain, to provide teaching about the treadmill test or the cardiac CT, and to translate this knowledge into an understanding of the individual patient’s prognosis and immediate risk for acute cardiac emergency, such as heart attack.”
Two UF emergency medicine attending physicians and five emergency and cardiac-trained mid-level practitioners, including Shands advanced registered nurse practitioners and UF physician assistants, are dedicated to the unit.
The 1,500-square-foot space includes eight observation beds, a treadmill for stress testing and access to a CT scanner. The area was formerly used for pediatric patients before the Pediatric E.R. at the Shands Hospital for Children opened on the medical center’s north campus.
The addition also creates more capacity within the main emergency room. It adds up to a more patient-centered, interdisciplinary type of care for all.
“The Chest Pain E.R. is yet another step in improving the emergency and cardiovascular care of patients at Shands,” said Adrian Tyndall, M.D., chairman of UF’s department of emergency medicine. “Patients who present with chest pain can receive expedited diagnostic studies in a specifically designated area to determine the reasons for their chest pain. Patients will have immediate answers and their outpatient care will be better coordinated.”
When patients with chest pain arrive at the Shands Critical Care Center Emergency Department, patients at high risk for having a heart attack or other acute cardiac event will remain in the emergency area to receive care. Low- to medium-risk patients will undergo initial evaluation in the Emergency Department and will then be monitored in the Chest Pain E.R. Follow-up cardiac evaluations will include repeat electrocardiograms, blood samples for cardiac biomarkers and cardiac testing, including treadmill stress tests, cardiac CT angiograms or nuclear cardiac imaging.
“We all lead busy lives and all too often both men and women ignore chest pain, assuming that it will go away. Many times it doesn’t go away or the pain returns and is even worse,” said Jamie Conti, M.D., chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine in the College of Medicine. “If we are honest with ourselves, we really do want to know what is causing the pain. Everyone in our community now has a place to go to be evaluated and get answers, quickly and efficiently.”