Appleton Medical Center Earns Chest Pain Center Re-Accreditation

February 2, 2012

National Organization Recognizes Hospital for Care of Heart Attack Patients

Appleton Medical Center (AMC) received a full-three year re-accreditation from the national Society of Chest Pain Centers.

Throughout the re-accreditation process, reviewers were impressed with how quickly patients with chest pain were evaluated and treated while shining a spotlight on AMC’s Code STEMI program. Code STEMI quickly identifies patients with a certain kind of heart attack called myocardial infarction and gets them into a cath lab in less than 70 minutes. AMC is one of just two accredited hospitals in the country to have an average “door-to-balloon” time under 70 minutes for EMS patients.

“With heart attacks, time is muscle and the faster we can get patients into the cath lab, the better,” said Greg Hunter, MD, an emergency department physician at AMC and medical director of the Chest Pain Center. “The accreditation shows our patients we meet the standards and are working to provide the best care possible.”

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 dying annually of heart disease. More than 5 million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. Chest pain is one of the top three reasons why patients come to AMC’s Emergency Department. The Society of Chest Pain Centers looks to significantly reduce the mortality rate of these patients by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, reduce the time that it takes to receive treatment, and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.

AMC is one of 16 accredited Chest Pain Centers in Wisconsin.

“The accreditation is important since patients coming to Appleton Medical Center know that we meet national standards and qualities and that by following these guidelines, we are taking the right steps that save lives,” said Khaldoon Alaswad, MD, the medical director of the cath lab. “The most important standard is how we are doing with door-to-balloon time and we not only meet, but we exceed the national standards. Every minute we can shave from that time saves lives.”

According to the Society of Chest Pain Centers, accreditation means that hospitals like Appleton Medical Center deliver quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a comprehensive set of stringent criteria. Before accreditation is granted, the Society conducts a strict on-site evaluation. Key areas in which a Chest Pain Center must demonstrate expertise include:

  • Integration with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no  assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring Chest Pain Center personnel competency and training
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek  medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack

Dr. Alaswad said being evaluated by an outside organization like the Society of Chest Pain Centers is a great way to see how what’s being done locally compares to national standards and get feedback on how to become even better.

“We want to know if we’re doing a good job and if not, how can we improve? There is a lot of sharing of information that goes on so we can come up with ways to get better,” he said. “In turn, we are sharing a lot of what we do here with other hospitals, especially with Code STEMI.”

In fact, one of the reviewers suggested AMC staff  “keep doing what you’re doing and take your program on a tour bus to other places for them to see and benefit from” what the hospital is doing. Reviewers also praised the close relationship AMC has with Gold Cross Ambulance and other EMTs to help identify heart attack patients in the field and get them to treatment more quickly.

The Society of Chest Pain Centers is a patient centric non-profit international professional organization focused upon improving care for patients with acute coronary syndromes and other related maladies.  Established in 1998, the Society is dedicated to patient advocacy and focusing on ischemic heart disease. Central to its mission is the question, “What is right for the patient?”  In answer, the Society promotes protocol-based medicine, often delivered through a Chest Pain Center model to address the diagnosis and treatment of acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, and to promote the adoption of process improvement science by healthcare providers. To best fulfill this mission, the Society of Chest Pain Centers provides accreditation to facilities striving for optimum Chest Pain Center care. SCPC is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. 

AMC is a 160-bed acute care hospital that opened in 1958. In addition to general medical and surgical care, services include the Appleton Heart Institute, a fully staffed emergency department, pediatrics, birthing services, a comprehensive cancer center, and ThedaCare Orthopedic Care, which integrates orthopedics, sports medicine, outpatient rehabilitation and other services. Appleton Medical Center is an accredited Chest Pain Center by the national Society of Chest Pain Centers.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, media may contact Megan Wilcox, APR, (, public relations and corporate specialist for ThedaCare, at (920) 830-5847, or call the Theda Clark Medical Center switchboard at (920) 729-3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.