(September 9, 2013) – It’s the middle of the night and you’re experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath — the classic signs of a heart attack. You reach for the phone. When emergency strikes, it should be comforting to know that wherever you live in Loudoun County, state-of-the-art emergency care is only minutes away.
Loudoun County’s trio of Emergency Care Centers (ECCs) — just three of many Inova facilities throughout Northern Virginia — offer excellence in patient care any time and anywhere you need it. There are two full-service ECCs at Inova Loudoun Hospital — one for adults and one specially designed for pediatric patients. And if you live on the western side of the county, the brand new Inova Wheeler Family Emergency Care Center – Leesburg provides a high level of patient-centered care.
To ensure that you get to the right facility as quickly as possible, each of Inova’s ECCs works in close concert with Loudoun County’s 911 Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
“Loudoun County EMS works collaboratively with all three Emergency Care Centers,” says Edward Puccio, MD, Medical Director of Emergency Services at Inova Loudoun Hospital. “We have an expertly staffed command center in each of the Emergency Care Centers that communicates with our emergency medical services provider and makes recommendations on which location to send a patient to and prepares the medical team for that patient’s arrival.”
The staff at all three ECCs is composed of specialty-trained, board-certified emergency physicians, emergency nurses, and laboratory and imaging technicians who diagnose and treat a full spectrum of medical emergencies. Each care center is equipped with on-site diagnostic imaging including CT scans, MRI, X-ray and ultrasound.
The newly opened Inova Wheeler Family Emergency Care Center – Leesburg has been enhanced to provide every aspect of patient-centered care including large private patient rooms enclosed by glass to ensure a high degree of patient privacy. Equipped with the latest technology, the medical team is capable of handling a wide array of emergencies.
“The Inova Wheeler Family Emergency Care Center – Leesburg meets the high demand for emergency services in western Loudoun and over the years has been a great asset because it complements the services that are provided at Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Lansdowne Campus with similar practices and similar protocols,” says John Morgan, MD, an emergency physician and Operational Medical Director of Inova Loudoun County EMS.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke, an EMS team can assess your condition and communicate the results to the ECC even before you arrive at the hospital.
“Each of the three Emergency Care Centers in Loudoun County has a terrific working relationship with local EMS,” says Dr. Morgan.
When EMS identifies a patient with a stroke, it evaluates the patient and then contacts the nearest ECC with the results. “This way, we can prepare for that patient because when you’re having a stroke, every minute counts toward whether you can get treatment with a clotbuster medicine,” says Dr. Puccio.
When EMS responds to someone with symptoms of a heart attack, it performs an electrocardiogram in the home, then transmits the results to the ECC staff electronically. Securing the patient’s diagnosis in advance allows the ECC to activate the cardiac catheterization team so it can perform a balloon angioplasty to reopen a blocked artery.
“The national benchmark for ‘door-to-balloon’ time is 90 minutes from arrival of the patient to the hospital to having that vessel opened,” says Dr. Puccio. “We have been in the 60-minute range for the last three years. We’re accomplishing this in collaboration with EMS who alert us so we can prepare even before the patient arrives at our door.”
Know the Signs
Minutes matter during a heart attack or stroke. The faster you get help, the better your outcome will be. Here are signs and symptoms of both:
Heart attack signs:
- Chest discomfort
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting, back or jaw pain
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Other sudden signs such as numbness or weakness of the leg, confusion, trouble seeing, dizziness, severe headache
- Learn more about stroke warning signs and symptoms
- Stroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone else are experiencing stroke warning signs, call 911.
Especially for Kids
For pediatric emergencies, the Pediatric Emergency Care Center at Inova Loudoun Hospital is specially designed to treat babies through teens.
“The Pediatric Emergency Care Center is a specialized area for children due to the additional expertise and training the staff has in managing children or helping their families during an emergency,” says John Morgan, MD. “It’s everything pediatric from the actual environment to the knowledge of the people working with the patients. They have all the resources they need to ensure the best experience for children and their families.”
The facility features a comforting atmosphere and offers medical equipment sized for younger patients. To meet the unique needs of pediatric patients, the facility is staffed by pediatric specialty physicians, pediatric hospitalists and emergency nurses certified in pediatric advanced life support and pediatric emergency nursing, and child life specialists who help ease the stress and anxiety that affect children during hospital visits and stays. Visit www.inova.org/childlife for more information about the program.
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