Southcoast Health Donates Equipment to Newport and two other Regional Ambulance Services

Technology ensures rapid treatment for heart attack patients

Southcoast Health will donate technology to the Fairhaven, Westport and Newport, RI, ambulance services, so that heart attack victims can rapidly receive the emergency intervention they need.

Each town will receive monitors that allow paramedics to transmit 12-lead EKG results from the ambulance to Southcoast hospitals, enabling cardiologists to determine if a patient is suffering a heart attack and, if so, what type while the patient is en route to the hospital.

If the EKG reading indicates a STEMI, the most serious form of heart attack, doctors can activate the Charlton cardiac catheterization lab and be ready to treat the patient immediately upon arrival.

A STEMI involves a blockage in one of the heart’s major arteries, which can cause life-limiting damage to the cardiac muscle. Doctors can lessen that damage if they rapidly restore blood flow.

“The Newport Fire Department is honored by the generosity of Southcoast Health in partnering with us to deliver this piece of life saving equipment to Newport’s citizens and visitors,” said Captain Brad Cronin of the Newport Fire Department. “Enhancing the recognition of potentially life threatening heart rhythms will improve patient outcome for years to come.”

“Southcoast Health is pleased to continue our support of local EMS providers in our region, who are on the front lines of patient care every day,” said Keith Hovan, President and CEO of Southcoast Health.

“This new equipment will directly impact patients by saving crucial minutes between the onset of a heart attack and treatment,” he said. “Getting a patient to the hospital and into the cardiac cath lab faster can make the difference between life and death.”

“In addition, Charlton Memorial is the only hospital in the area with a cardiac surgery team available 24/7, as well as sophisticated support devices for weakened hearts, and arrhythmia treatment services for patients who experience complications of their heart attack,” said Dr. Margaret Ferrell, Physician-in-Chief for Cardiovascular Services at Southcoast Health, of which Charlton is a part. “Patients can get virtually all the care they need in one location without incurring a transfer to another hospital if things don’t go according to plan.”

Southcoast is donating a total of five cardiac monitors to the three towns. In addition, Fairhaven will also receive a Stryker PowerLOAD stretcher loading system, which automatically lifts patients onto the ambulance.

“This is a phenomenal partnership between Southcoast Health and the towns’ emergency medical services,” said Brian Giorgianni, EMS Coordinator for Southcoast Hospitals Group. “We are donating the equipment, but the towns are showing their commitment to patients by providing the wireless connections that make the EKG transmission possible.”

Dr. Matt Bivens, EMS Medical Director for St. Luke’s Hospital and also for Southcoast Health, said that the paramedics themselves first brought forward the idea of a local network to share ambulance EKGs.

“New Bedford EMS had installed wireless connections on the city’s ambulances to help share patient run reports. But then Mark McGraw, the director of New Bedford EMS, and others in leadership there realized they could now also share EKGs in real time as well,” Bivens said. “They would just need to upgrade their EKG monitors, and it was time to do that soon anyway.”

Bivens said this led Southcoast to donate state-of-the-art EKG monitors to New Bedford EMS, and also to build the hospital-based LifeNet transmission system.

“So it’s a great example of what hospitals and paramedics can accomplish to improve patient care when we work with each other,” Bivens said.

Since 2016, Southcoast Health has donated numerous monitors and equipment upgrades to local EMS.

“This is a remarkable example of how a strong partnership between Southcoast Health and EMS services can dramatically improve patient care,” said Hovan. “The right emergency medical technology in their expert hands means that we all can save lives and ensure the best possible outcomes.”