News > Heart Attack - The First Minutes Count the Most
When a heart attack strikes, the Rogue Valley is the place you want to be. Rogue Valley Medical Center (RVMC) is the only hospital in Oregon and California to be ranked among the nation’s 100 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals five times. RVMC, a member of Asante Health System, provides the expertise and comprehensive care that helps more than 6,000 heart patients each year. Building on its 33-year history of excellence in heart care, RVMC uses the latest diagnostic technology, performs a wide range of procedures, and participates in life saving partnerships to help patients recover quickly and maintain healthy lifestyles.
One of those partnerships is ASSET—Acute ST Segment Elevation Task Force. Interventional cardiologist Brian Gross, MD, a long time resident of southern Oregon, envisioned a program that could save the lives of heart patients throughout the region. That vision became a reality in 2003, when Dr. Gross brought together area hospitals and emergency services from nine counties to collaborate in an effort to reduce the time between the onset of an acute heart event and its treatment.
"We all know that time is often a matter of life and death when dealing with a heart attack," says Dr. Gross. In only three years, ASSET has produced one of the lowest heart mortality rates in the country—3.9 percent in 2006 compared with 10 to 17 percent nationally—demonstrating the success of the program. "It’s a very unique collaboration," explains Dr. Gross, one of several cardiologists with more than 20 years of experience practicing at RVMC. "I get calls from cardiologists all over the country, asking how we are able to do this."
Award-winning service means continuously improving response time and treatment for future patients. Each week, cardiologists from Southern Oregon Cardiology meet with RVMC heart surgeons to discuss the more complex cases, present breakthrough strategies, and evaluate effectiveness of treatment. "In many places, you’d see entities like these competing against one another, but at RVMC there is enormous cooperation, respect, and trust among colleagues, probably because we have all worked together for so long," says cardiologist Todd Kotler, MD. "It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen at any hospital and is the underlying reason for our national reputation in heart care."
Recognizing the importance of streamlining processes to improve patient care, RVMC took into consideration the needs of the ASSET program in its recent Rebuild. "We recognized the need to locate our cardiac services in close proximity to make access more convenient and safe for patients," explains Roy Vinyard, president and CEO of Asante Health System. The new and expanded Heart Center is located in the patient tower and features the latest technology in a comfortable and healing atmosphere. Each bed is equipped with built-in wireless technology, allowing staff to monitor vital signs without disturbing patients; and every room is private, with a sofa that converts into a bed for loved ones to remain close by. After leaving the hospital, care continues with the Heart Rehabilitation program. Clinical staff closely monitor patients’ new diets, exercise programs, and other lifestyle changes and provide education for patients and their families. Cardiologists also share their expertise with members of the community through seminars, events, and workshops. Dr. Gross is a familiar face to many people in the region—even at Rogue Community College, where he teaches paramedic students. "Staying in touch with the community keeps us aware of their needs and how best to serve them," says Dr. Gross.
Learning that you have a serious heart condition, especially as a result of an acute heart event, is never easy. But with the experience and commitment of our team of experts, we care for your heart using the nationally recognized exceptional standards we have set over the past 33 years. There is never a good time to have a heart attack, but if it happens, the Rogue Valley is the place to be.