Advances in heart and stroke care presented at annual forum

Nurses, cardiologists, quality professionals and emergency medical experts from across the state recently met for the Ninth Annual South Carolina Heart & Stroke Care Alliance (HSCA) educational forum - "Marking the Milestones, Mapping the Future."

The Alliance is a statewide collaborative that works to improve heart and stroke care for all South Carolinians.

The first part of the day focused on stroke, including a talk by SCHA President and CEO Thornton Kirby.

Catherine Heigel, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), shared a personal story about the aftermath of her father's stroke. He was there also, watching from the audience.

SC EMS Bureau Chief Rob Wronski discussed RACE (Rapid Arterial Occlusion Evaluation), a stroke triage tool soon to be in use throughout the state.

Later the National Director of Clinical Systems for the American Heart Association (AHA) Mic Gunderson spoke about nationwide progress in treating the most severe types of heart attacks. The presentation focused on how hospitals and providers can strengthen systems of care and improve patient outcomes.

Gunderson noted that educating the public (about how to recognize symtoms and take effective action) and legislators (how lower mortality and better care will save money and boost public health) will be crucial pieces of the work ahead.

The AHA/American Stroke Association goal is to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20% by 2020.

Emory University School of Medicine professor Bryan McNally, MD, MPH and MUSC's Thomas Todoran, MD spoke about the South Carolina Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES). The registry is a quality improvement tool that allows participating emergency medical technicians and hopitals to track individual patients' progress and better understand their health outcomes.

Attendees were excited to hear about the new sepsis pilot study happening in the Upstate. The project was originally slated to last 30 days but was so successful that it has now continued for several months. Patients who show symptoms of sepsis are injected with antibiotics in the field by EMS, helping to prevent the infection from doing major damage. The intervention has the potential to reduce mortality rates and save hospitals thousands of dollars.

Heart attack survivor Robbie Shipes told the crowd about his near death experience during the University of South Carolina annual Mud Run, and how his life has changed since his recovery.

To close out the conference, HSCA Chair Dr. Eric Powers discussed the collaborative's goals for 2016.

To download all the 2015 HSCA educational forum presentations, click here.

If you would like to get involved with the SC HSCA please contact SCHA's Director of Quality Improvement Projects Diana Zona at

12-11-2015 01:19 (EST)