Ambulances rushing heart attack patients to the hospital no longer will have to bypass Trios Health in Kennewick.
The hospital has earned the top-level designation of a Level 1 Cardiac Center, meaning it can handle ambulance patients with all kinds of emergency cardiac problems.
It joins Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland as the only such facilities in the Tri-City area. Emergency responders used to have to take some patients to Kadlec and bypass Trios.
The option of sending patients to Trios will save time in situations where every minute counts, officials said.
"If you have a heart attack at Walmart on Highway 395 ... now you can come here, which is probably going to save 20, 25 minutes," said Diane Sanders, Trios' chief nursing officer.
Kennewick Fire Capt. Eric Nilson, the department's emergency medical services officer, pointed to the adage that "time is tissue."
"For every minute that we don't have the patient at a cardiac cath lab, the more heart tissue dies," he said. "Every minute that we can shave off, the better outcome the patient has."
The Level 1 designation, through the Washington State Emergency Cardiac and Stroke System, means Trios has met a long list of criteria, including having diagnostic and interventional cardiac catherization available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Trios added interventional cardiology to its list of heart care offerings last fall. The subspecialty of cardiology includes using thin, flexible tubes called catheters to diagnose and treat cardiovascular problems.
Dr. Yunus Moosa leads Trios' interventional cardiology program. It will relocate from the Auburn Street hospital to the new Trios Southridge Hospital when that site opens in June.
The state Emergency Cardiac and Stroke System was created to improve outcomes for heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke patients.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., killing about 600,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trios officials said the health system has been working hard to provide high-quality services.
"Last fall, the Joint Commission named Trios Health the only 'Top Performer' in the Tri-Cities in three key areas, including heart failure care. Now the state recognizes our increased capabilities and the high level of care our team delivers," said Glen Marshall, Trios CEO, in a statement.
"Doing what it takes to become a Level 1 Cardiac Center has been a focal point for us. Providing the services our patients want and need is at the heart of our commitment to this community."
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald