Patient benefits from advanced cardiac care partnership

Patients who present at Orillia Soliders’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) with heart attack symptoms will now be transported directly to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s (RVH) Cardiac Intervention Unit for their lifesaving treatment.

This change is the result of an important new heart attack process called the Simcoe Muskoka Code STEMI Protocol, first introduced to the county in November, 2020. This phased, gradual approach to bringing the ‘gold standard’ of cardiac care to the people of Simcoe Muskoka is a partnership between RVH, the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, Rama Paramedic Services and area hospitals. The ‘gold standard’ of care is achieved when a patient coming from a community hospital receives advanced cardiac care in less than 120 minutes from onset of symptoms.

Orillia resident David Dwinnell, 68, was the first person to receive this ‘gold standard’ of cardiac care having had his cardiac procedure within 96 minutes from presenting to OSMH’s Emergency department.

On the morning of January 21, Dwinnell was driving when he experienced chest pressure and dizziness. He pulled over to the side of the road and called his brother who took him to OSMH’s Emergency department.

The highly skilled team of nurses activated the Code STEMI protocol in conjunction with the Emergency physician, Dr. John Sauvé. Collectively, they provided the necessary care for Dwinnell while facilitating the transfer to RVH. Simcoe County paramedics were dispatched and Dwinnell was safely transported to RVH where the cardiac team was waiting for him.  Within minutes he was in the Cardiac Intervention Unit undergoing an angioplasty procedure under the care of RVH interventional cardiologist, Dr Mark Kotowycz.

“It was truly a team effort all around,” says Dr. Sauve.  “Our ER team in Orillia is well prepared for this type of circumstance and the quality and transfer of care at both hospitals was flawless.”

Dwinnell was equally pleased with his care adding, “From the time I arrived at OSMH the team was great. I was immediately surrounded by several nurses and a physician and before I knew it I was on my way to RVH in Barrie. When I arrived at RVH the team was waiting for me. Everything went very well and the care was great.”

Since December, residents of Simcoe County, including Rama First Nation, who call 9-1-1 with heart attack symptoms have been transported directly to RVH for care, bypassing local Emergency departments. People with symptoms who went to their local hospital’s Emergency department on their own were stabilized and transported to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket. Now, that the second phase of the new protocol is in effect, heart attack patients who go to OSMH’s Emergency department will be transported directly to RVH. In February this will also apply to patients who present to the Emergency departments at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) and Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH).

“Having these advanced cardiac services, and a highly-skilled team at RVH means that now most patients in Simcoe County will be able to get lifesaving intervention within 120 minutes of a heart attack,” says Dr. Tony Lee, medical director of RVH’s Cardiac Intervention Unit. “That is great news because the faster a patient can be treated, the better the outcome. When it comes to the heart, ‘time is muscle.’ This is a very important step in our safe, gradual phased approach to eventually bring timely access to 24/7 advanced cardiac care to all of North Simcoe Muskoka. This new cardiac protocol would not be possible without the full collaboration of all our health partners in this region. Special thanks to the team at  OSMH, and especially Dr. Aaron Barnett, Chief of Emergency, for the team’s dedication and commitment to bringing this ‘gold standard’ of cardiac care to the people who call OSMH their home hospital.”

RVH is well positioned to deliver advanced cardiac care. The regional heart program, a partnership with Southlake, opened in January 2018 and since then the cardiac team has completed just over 6,000 heart procedures including angiograms, angioplasty  and pacemaker implants.

It is expected the protocol will extend to Muskoka residents in spring of 2021 which will include Muskoka Paramedic services and Muskoka Algonquin Health Services.

Photo: David Dwinnell, 68 was the first Orillia resident to benefit from the new Simcoe Muskoka Code STEMI Protocol. Now people with heart attack symptoms who go to Orillia Soliders’ Memorial Hospital’s (OSMH) Emergency department will be transported directly to RVH for advanced cardiac care.

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