Monday, August 29, 2005

Chest Pain Center

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Every day, thousands of people drive past an I-94 billboard telling them that Elmbrook Memorial Hospital is Waukesha County's first accredited chest pain center.

A billboard on I-94 for Elmbrook Memorial Hospital does not say that although the hospital can perform other treatments, it lacks a cardiac catheterization lab to treat heart attack patients.

But if their chest pain is caused by a heart attack, they could be sorely mistaken in thinking that the hospital will fully treat the emergency.

Recently, the small, community hospital placed an ad on a billboard along I-94 near the Waukesha-Milwaukee county line, just a few miles from its doors. The billboard tells westbound motorists about the hospital's recent chest pain accreditation.

What the ad does not say is that while the hospital has an emergency department that can diagnose a heart attack, it does not have a cardiac catheterization lab. That means it is not capable of opening a blocked coronary artery with balloon angioplasty, the preferred method for treating a heart attack.

The billboard also does not say that nearly all the heart attack patients who go to Elmbrook have to be transferred by ambulance to other hospitals with catheterization labs, a process that can take as long as an additional half-hour.


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