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February 14, 2013
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate receives $30K grant from Excellus to place life-saving cardiac equipment in ambulances

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate University Hospital today, Feb. 14, received a a $30,000 grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield today that will allow the hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Heart and Vascular Center to purchase and distribute lifesaving cardiac care equipment for municipal and volunteer ambulance companies. The equipment will help speed the diagnosis and treatment of individuals experiencing heart attack symptoms.

The funding from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will place 37, 12-lead electrocardiogram modems in ambulances across five Central New York counties. The 12-lead ECG modems will allow first responders to transmit vital diagnostic information directly from individuals who have an acute myocardial infarction or heart attack symptoms to hospital emergency departments. The advance data sent via a 12-lead ECG 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,” said 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. “Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s grant will allow our Heart and Vascular Center and Department of Emergency Medicine to work closely with local Emergency Medical Services agencies to get patients who may be experiencing heart attack symptoms the quickest and most appropriate care possible. The new equipment will go a long way toward advancing patient care, improving outcomes and saving lives.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield funds will underwrite the purchase of Physio-Control Life Pak modems.  Upstate University Hospital, Crouse Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center and Cayuga Medical Center are all equipped to receive 12-lead ECG transmissions through the Physio-Control system. Approximately 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.

“The Central New York Emergency Medical Services system strives to provide its community with excellent patient care and safe, efficient transport of the sick and injured,” said Daniel Olsson, DO, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Upstate. “I thank Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Upstate University Hospital and neighboring hospitals for supporting this initiative. 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.

“Excellus BlueCross BlueShield chose Valentine’s Day to announce this grant,” said Vercillo, “because it’s a time when our thoughts are particularly focused on the heart and those we care about the most.”

Caption:

Dr. John McCabe, chief executive officer of Upstate University Hospital, speaking at a press conference Feb. 14, says Upstate will use a $30,000 grant from Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield to acquire and distribute  life-saving cardiac care monitoring equipment for 23 ambulance companies in five counties.  The modems will enable ambulance companies to transmit vital information to area hospital emergency rooms to help speed the diagnosis and treatment of individuals experiencing heart attack symptoms.

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