High-tech help for the heart

Published 7:28 pm Saturday, March 12, 2011

LIFENET Technology: An emergency medical technician uses LIFENET Technology equipment to diagnose the symptoms of his patient. The equipment acts as a portable EKG machine that also transmits information to the hospital prior to the patient arriving to reduce his wait time and provide him with treatment during that critical 90-minute window.

Sentara ensures new technology helps heart attack victims

EMTs across the region now have access to better diagnostic tools thanks to Sentara Healthcare.

Sentara helped provide the LIFENET program in ambulances throughout the region.

LIFENET is used by emergency medical technicians all over the Tidewater region. LIFENET basically acts like a portable EKG machine. It is a web-based system, which allows EMTs to send the information to the hospital immediately.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s a diagnostic tool so that when someone has a heart attack they can know what’s happening,” said Kim Van Sickel of Sentara. “It allows you to diagnose STEMI heart attack in the field.”

Diagnosing heart attacks and transmitting that data to the hospital prior to arrival means patients can be treated faster. It provides the information necessary to prepare treatment teams with needed information.

“They can be ready to accept the patient into the cardiac cauterization lab,” she said.

When a patient is suffering from a heart attack, it’s important for them to be diagnosed and treated within a 90-minute time frame, Van Sickel said.

“Time is of the essence.”

Because Sentara has so many facilities across the Tidewater region, they wanted to provide all EMTs with the same level of care in terms of the emergency medical personnel. There are seven Sentara hospitals in the region, so they wanted to contribute to the health of patients all across the region.

“We are at the table in a big way,” she said.

Sentara was instrumental in ensuring that all area EMTs had the equipment and were trained to use it. Sentara helped design the training program and bought some of the equipment. Other financial support came from government and grant sources.

However, Sentara’s support does not mean that patients will be taken only to Sentara hospitals.

“It leads to better heart care across the region,” Van Sickel said. “Now EMS are equipped to start the diagnosis process, saving minutes that are precious time. It speeds it up and lets the hospital know.”

The process of expanding the program already is in the works, Van Sickel added.