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EMS Personnel and ED Staff's Improved Communication Saves Lives

February 28th, 2019

Philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “Communication means sharing together, thinking together, not agreeing or disagreeing together but thinking observing, learning, understanding together.” The truth of this profound statement is realized in St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center’s most effective communication initiative—The Emergency Response Appreciation and Education Dinner. The education dinners, originated in 2008, aims to foster excellence in emergency health care services through improved communication and education. Now in its 11th year, the quarterly dinners continue to hone the necessity of collaborative communication to improve patient outcomes.

St. Catherine of Siena held its first EMS Education Dinner of 2019 on Wednesday, February 27th, at Stonebridge Golf Club, with more than 100 EMS personnel in attendance from 19 local fire houses. St. Catherine of Siena’s attending physician Michael Happes, MD, FACC, RPVI, lectured on “Cardiac Assessment”, and St. Charles Rehabilitation physical therapist Anthony Parrella, lectured on “Injury Prevention and Back Safety.” EMS personnel in attendance earned 1.5 houses of CME credits for attending the event.

In addition, St. Catherine’s Stroke Program Coordinator Catherine Videtto, MSN, RN, ANP, CCRN, CPHQ, presented the “Protector of the Penumbra” Award to the Kings Park and Smithtown Fire Departments, for adhering to life-saving protocols, which resulted in positive outcomes for patients. The “Protector of the Penumbra” award was developed by St. Catherine of Siena as a patient initiative in partnership with the American Heart Association. The goal is to improve administration times for the “clot-busting” drug used in the treatment of patients who are brought to the emergency department with symptoms of acute ischemic stroke.

Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that stops the flow of blood and deprives the surrounding brain tissue of oxygen. In the absence of oxygen, the brain cells in the immediate area begin to die and release a cascade of toxic chemicals that threaten brain tissue in the surrounding area—the ischemic penumbra.  When a patient receives the drug within 40 minutes of arrival, emergency personnel are awarded for their diligence. Because of their timely care, they successfully aided in minimizing the long-term deficits from the ischemic stroke.

In an effort to visualize the importance of such effective communications during critical health emergencies, Denise Corby, resident of Smithtown, was in attendance to share her personal story of how enhanced communications between EMS personnel and staff at St. Catherine of Siena, saved her life. “I was home with my partner Bob on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and after bending down to pick up some food I went flaccid on the right side of my body—my knee and arm buckled and I fell to the floor,” said Denise. Thankfully, her partner quickly noticed the signs—drooping, slurring and weakness—and he called 9-1-1. That call saved her life. The Smithtown Fire Department arrived, assessed the situation and followed detailed protocols for patients presenting with stroke symptoms. “When I arrived at St. Catherine, wonderful people were already waiting for me—and within an hour I was feeling better,” continued Denise.

St. Catherine’s Emergency Department Physician Dr. Joshua Bozek, who was working during Denise’s incident, shared, “she was treated with a complete resolution to the effects of a stroke with 82 minutes—so never underestimate the need for speed, timing and most importantly—communication. Today, Denise, a Nassau/Suffolk BOCES teacher, is still educating, and she attributes that to the life-saving EMS team and Emergency Department staff at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center.  “As a teacher, I go to work and after work I carry on with life at home—physicians, nurses and all the care staff, are always available 24 hours,” said Denise. “You were there when I needed you—you saved my life and I can’t thank everyone enough.”

St. Catherine of Siena is a New York designated Stroke Center, and a recipient of the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care. The Emergency Department offers treatment for pediatric and adult emergencies, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year— providing expert interventional care to more than 30,000 patients annually. Designed for the rapid care of patients, the Emergency Department truly excels in the resuscitation of critically ill patients. Using the latest in Emergency Medicine techniques, the skilled staff are prepared to immediately care for the most unstable of patients.

The EMS Dinner is coordinated by St. Catherine of Siena’s Community Outreach Program, which is committed to providing access and knowledge of health resources to the communities of Long Island. The program is grounded in the importance and value of emphasizing good health, fitness, safety and the promotion of early detection of illness or disease. Free events are sponsored throughout the year, for more information, please visit:  https://stcatherines.chsli.org/community-health-outreach-program

Photo Caption (L-R): Denise Corby (center and holding flowers) with St. Catherine’s Stroke Program Coordinator Catherine Videtto (far left) and St. Catherine’s Medical Director of the Emergency Department James Ryan, MD, and members of the Smithtown Fire Department.

For a physician referral, please call (631) 870-3444.

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