How our emergency department saves lives
A recent letter to the editor ("What are we paying for?" Index-Tribune, July 1) questioning the Sonoma Valley Hospital Emergency Department's capability for treating certain patients has prompted us to take this time to remind our community of what we do and how well we do it.
That the Sonoma Valley Emergency Department is essential to our community, few would deny. Over the years, we've saved countless lives and put countless families at ease because we are here, minutes from home, with dedicated physicians and state-of-the-art equipment to handle medical emergencies on-site, or to get patients stabilized and safely transported to a tertiary care facility, such as Marin General Hospital.
For patients with chest pain, we have consistent 100 percent compliance with national core measures. Patients with chest pain either call 9-1-1 or "walk in" to our ER. We have established protocols that allow a walk-in patient with chest pain that is subsequently diagnosed as being caused by a heart attack to be stabilized and transferred to a Cardiac Cath Lab within 25 minutes. This allows the patients to receive definitive care resulting in opening of the blocked heart artery within the national goal of 90 minutes.
Sonoma County has an EMS protocol that states if an EKG obtained by paramedics indicates an acute heart attack, then, according to county-wide policy, that patient will be transferred directly to the nearest Cardiac Cath Lab.
We have an exceptional transfer arrangement with Marin General Hospital for our acute heart attack patients. Earlier this year, for example, a woman with chest pain called 9-1-1. Paramedics arrived and before they could get her out of her drive, she went into cardiac arrest. They rushed her to our emergency department. When she arrived, we stabilized her, and put her back into the ambulance to go to the cardiac center in Marin, but she had another cardiac arrest in the ambulance bay before she left. So we brought her back inside, did further stabilization until, ultimately, she was able to be transferred to Marin General, where she had a heart catheterization and stent placement. Three days later, she came back to our emergency room to thank us for our good care.
For stroke patients, we have an excellent telemedicine program with Cal Pacific that gives us access to world class neurologists who provide consultative services that allow us to administer - on site - Thrombolytics, or clot busters, to acute stroke patients, saving lives, right in our own ER. Under their guidance, the majority of these patients can be safely admitted and cared for by Sonoma Valley Hospital.
During the past year, we've made significant upgrades to our facility, including state-of-the-art heart monitors for our patients, which add a higher degree of patient safety and help us provide more focused and individualized care for our patients. Our level of ancillary equipment is equal to any tertiary care emergency room.
The Emergency Department Waiting Room has undergone a recent redesign to improve the comfort for those patients, families, and visitors awaiting service.
We are proud of the service we bring to Sonoma Valley and are always working to improve our patients' and families' comfort.
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Robert Cohen, M.D., is chief medical officer of Sonoma Valley Hospital. Jared Hubbell is director of the Emergency Department at Sonoma Valley Hospital.