A $30,000 grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will allow Upstate University Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Heart and Vascular Center to purchase and distribute lifesaving cardiac care equipment for municipal and volunteer ambulance squads.
The equipment will help speed the diagnosis and treatment of people experiencing the symptoms of heart attack.
The money from Excellus will pay for 37, 12-lead electrocardiogram modems for ambulances across five Central New York counties. The equipment will allow first responders to transmit vital diagnostic information directly to hospital emergency departments, which can speed triage and treatment once the patient arrives at the hospital, lowering a patient’s risk of death and serious damage to the heart muscle.
“Providing access to high-quality health care for people who need it is core to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” says Arthur Vercillo, MD, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “We’re pleased to support Upstate University Hospital in its efforts to expand the availability of lifesaving diagnostic technology to our neighbors in the community.”
According to the American Heart Association, each year about 250,000 Americans suffer the most serious type of heart attack — myocardial infarction with ST-segment elevation — caused by obstructed blood flow to the heart due to a blocked artery. Having portable ECG modems in ambulances lets first responders wirelessly transmit results ahead to the hospital, giving the hospital time to mobilize a cardiac care team well before the patient arrives.
“The mission of Upstate Medical University is to improve the health of the communities it serves through education, biomedical research and health care,” said John McCabe, MD, Upstate’s senior vice president for hospital affairs and chief executive officer of Upstate University Hospital. “The new equipment will go a long way toward advancing patient care, improving outcomes and saving lives.”
The Excellus grant will underwrite the purchase of Lifepak ECG machines from Physio-Control. About 60 percent of Emergency Medical Services agencies in Central New York have 12-lead ECG capability. The grant will allow up to 23 ambulance services in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties to install the mobile technology.
Daniel Olsson, DO, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate, is grateful for the grant. “When every second counts, having portable electrocardiogram equipment more widely available in Central New York ambulances will save time, which will translate to saved lives.”
Funding for the 12-lead ECG modems comes from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community and Member Health Improvement program. This program provides grants to initiatives that involve numerous community partners, span multiple years, and include specific objectives and measurable outcomes in improving health. Preference is given to efforts that focus on the areas of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, medication compliance and/or patient safety.
Vercillo explains why Excellus made the announcement of the grant on Valentine’s Day: “Because it’s a time when our thoughts are particularly focused on the heart and those we care about the most.”