SAMC Earns Gold Plus Stroke Award

SAMC is the region's gold standard for providing patients with quality stroke care.8088StrokeTeamWithAward

SAMC recently became the first hospital in the region to earn the prestigious Gold Plus Stroke Award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. The Gold Plus Award is an advanced level of recognition acknowledging SAMC for compliance with the quality measures within the Get With The Guideline-Stroke Program.

"To earn the Gold Plus Award, a hospital must demonstrate at 85 percent compliance in each of the seven "Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Program" measures for at least 24 consecutive months," said Carla English of the American Heart Association. English presented the award during a Wednesday morning news conference at SAMC.

"This tremendous accomplishment is the result of hard work and dedication by our stroke team," said Ronald S. Owen, SAMC's Chief 8120DrFernandezRadiologist310x173Executive Officer.  "Our stroke team is comprised of highly skilled physicians, nurses and clinical team members who provide our patients with the best quality stroke care available."

Owen said this award is another example of SAMC's commitment to deliver the very best stroke care in the region. For patients that means a coordinated and quicker response time, which in turn means less damage caused by a stroke. 

"Time is brain; one minute of insufficient blood supply to the brain can kill 2 million nerve cells," said Dr. Stephen L. Fernandez,
 chairman and medical director for Radiology at SAMC and chairman of the Medical Center stroke care program "When experiencing a brain attack (stroke) our goal is to achieve the best outcome possible by coordinating treatment in a timely manner." 8125DrBenzER310x267

A majority of the stroke patients come through SAMC's Emergency Department where early recognition of stroke symptoms begins out in the field with area first responders.

"Once admitted to the Medical Center, a multidisciplinary team is alerted and responds to the Emergency Room," said Dr. Alexander Benz, board certified Emergency Medicine physician at SAMC. "Many of the treatments to limit debilitating damage must be administered in a timely manner." 

In addition to treatment already in place, by late spring emergency room physicians will be able to consult with local neurologist via telecommunications. The TeleNeurology8146LesDemonstratingTeleNeuro system will allow SAMC's neurologists to diagnosis a stroke patient within the critical initial three hour window to administer Tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) to dissolve blood clots to reverse some of the damage done by the stroke. The neurologist will respond within 15 minutes of receiving the tele message.
 This eliminates the need for the neurologist to be in the hospital to diagnose the stroke victim, thus saving valuable time.

The Southeast Alabama Medical Center Foundation provided funding of more than $50,000 to purchase the TeleNeurology equipment and technology.8154TeleNeuroFoundationCheck

Heart & Vascular Grand Opening

On February 28, SAMC officially opened phase three of its multimillion dollar Heart & Vascular Center. The first order of business was a women's luncheon held in the atrium of the new addition. Heart & vascular physicians attended the luncheon where they served as an informal panel to answer questions related to heart and vascular disease. To learn more about SAMC's Heart & Vascular services, click here.

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Interventional radiologist George Veale, M.D. greets one of the attendees at the women's luncheon.

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Vascular surgeon Ross Davis, M.D. chats with his wife Mary Anna before being seated at the women's luncheon.

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Harpist Merrie Beth Eubanks of Arlington, GA, performs for the women's luncheon in the lobby of SAMC's new Heart & Vascular center. Ms. Eubanks has extensively studied the harp for more than 23 years and has performed publicly for over sixteen years. She graduated with honors from the exclusive performing arts school, Interlochen Arts Academy, studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and holds a bachelor of music degree. She has performed for dignitaries such as George Bush, Janet Reno and Cathy Cox, and has been photographed in Southern Living Magazine.

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A group of about 65 women attended the luncheon. A heart and vascular physician was seated at each table and led discussion about different aspects of prevention, screening, diagnosis or treatment of the different types of heart and vascular disease. Dr. Ross Davis (in white, far side of table) is seen with his group in this photo.

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SAMC cardiologist Srinivasa Chennareddy, M.D. (far side of table, wearing blue scrubs), enjoys lunch with the guests at his table.

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Dr. Steven Johnson, a cardiovascular surgeon (far side of table wearing white coat) and Dr. William Veale (front right wearing white coat), a general/vascular surgeon, explain the intricacies of their medical specialties to their table during the women's luncheon at SAMC's new Heart & Vascular facility.

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Cardiologist Sylvia Rushing, M.D. listens to a former SAMC heart patient (not pictured) as they describe their experience at the Medical Center.

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Cardiologist Nelson Gwinn, M.D. points out the location of the carotid arteries as he leads a discussion on heart and vascular disease at the women's luncheon.

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Dr. William Veale talks about screening and risk factors for stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

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Interventional radiologist Steven Fernandez, M.D. informs the gathering of the latest technology available for his specialty in the fight against peripheral vascular disease.

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A look at the new front entrance to the Heart & Vascular Center. It is connected to the SAMC Women's Center facing Main Street at the west end of of the hospital. This newest phase also includes a spacious waiting area and rooms for stress tests, echocardiograms and nuclear medicine. The Medical Center has invested approximately $31 million into this 20-month project. Earlier phases of construction added two new cardiac catheterization labs with enhanced 3-D imaging, upgrades to existing cardiac catheterization labs, an endovascular surgery suite, and a 27-bed interventional and observational unit.

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A crowd of more than 150 gathered near the hospital's west parking deck for the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the Heart & Vascular Center.

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Hal Edwards, an executive at WOOF radio, shared a heartfelt story about his open heart surgery and recovery at SAMC.

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SAMC CEO Ron Owen addressed the ribbon cutting attendees, stating that the hospital exists to serve its patients. "Our community reaches out to 60 miles and serves 600,000 people. We take our responsibility to serve them very seriously. It's important to us to provide the best doctors, the best staff, and the best medical technology to treat our patients," said Owen.

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Interventional radiologist George Veale, M.D., whose father was one of the first radiologists at SAMC, took a few moments to recognize the pioneering work of three SAMC physicians: The late Dr. Luther McEachern, who introduced the practice of cardiology to SAMC in 1982; Dr. Randall Nichols, who in 1985 initiated vascular surgery techniques at the Medical Center; and Dr. Edward Planz, who performed the hospital's first open heart surgery on patient Billy Stephens in 1986.

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At left, Debbie McEachern Helms, widow of cardiologist Luther McEachern, M.D., accepts the Medical Center's Pioneer award noting his contribution to heart and vascular patients. Presenting the award are (center) Nelson Gwinn, M.D., chief of cardiology and (right) Kenneth Tucker, M.D., SAMC medical staff president.

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Dr. Edward Planz, at left, receives his SAMC Pioneer award from fellow cardiovascular surgeon Steven Johnson, M.D. Planz completed the hospital's first open heart surgery in 1986.

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More than 50 people participated in a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the opening of SAMC's new Heart and Vascular center on February 28, 2012. The group included representatives from the Houston County Health Care Authority, SAMC administration, eleven heart & vascular physicians, members of SAMC's heart & vascular patient care team, and representatives from the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce.

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A HISTORIC REUNION: Billy Stephens and his wife Anne pose with cardiovascular surgeon Edward J. Planz. Dr. Planz performed SAMC's first ever open heart surgery on Billy Stephens on January 8, 1986. Mrs. Stephens is also a heart patient, having had open heart surgery at SAMC in 1997. More than 26 years after his historic open heart surgery and 14 years after her surgery, the Stephens say they owe their lives to the care and treatment received at the Medical Center.

To learn more about SAMC's Heart & Vascular services, click here.

New Medical College Groundbreaking

 

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