Scarborough Health Network’s emergency cardiac care service fast tracks patients in Scarborough-Durham who are having a heart attack so that they can get the life-saving treatment they need as quickly as possible.
Known as Code STEMI, the emergency service involves the close collaboration of all of the partner hospitals, as well as Toronto and Durham Region Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
How does the Code STEMI program work?
The Code STEMI program is set into motion when a call is made to EMS for a patient suffering a heart attack. The patient, who could be at home, somewhere in the community, or at one of the partner hospitals, is picked up and transported by ambulance to the regional cardiac centre at SHN’s Centenary hospital. At the cardiac centre, the patient will be brought directly to one of the catheterization labs for an emergency coronary angioplasty to unblock the artery that is causing the heart attack. All of this is done within a crucial 90-minute target window.
Following the emergency procedure, the patient is sent to recover at the hospital closest to where he or she lives.
What does STEMI stand for?
STEMI is an acronym for ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction, which describes a heart attack caused by a completely blocked blood vessel. This kind of heart attack affects large areas of heart muscles, and will register on an electrocardiogram (ECG).
History of Code STEMI in Scarborough-Durham
In early 2009, Centenary participated with the Toronto Heart Attack Collaborative to pilot a new initiative called Code STEMI (segment (ST) elevation myocardial infarction). Through this initiative, unstable heart attack patients from the east Toronto area were brought directly to the catheterization lab at Centenary, where they were given the specialized care they needed—all within a crucial 90-minute window.
The initial pilot in east Toronto demonstrated how effective this initiative can be in saving lives. Simply put, the sooner a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is provided by our cardiac care program, the better a patient’s chance of surviving a heart attack. Furthermore, Code STEMI has helped to move patients out of the emergency department more quickly and get them home much sooner. In the pilot, patients’ length of stay in an emergency department was reduced by an average of seven hours, and their average length of stay in hospital was reduced by two days.
Expansion into Durham
At the start of 2010, the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CE LHIN) approved funding for Centenary to continue this life-saving program throughout east Toronto and to expand the program into Durham. At the end of April 2010, we began piloting the Code STEMI program in Durham Region.