St. Mary’s Hospital receives ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation

The American College of Cardiology has recognized St. Mary’s Hospital for its demonstrated expertise and commitment in treating patients with chest pain. St. Mary’s was awarded Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary PCI in December based on rigorous onsite evaluation of the staff’s ability to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.


This is the third time in a row that St. Mary’s has achieved 3-year Chest Pain Center accreditation from ACC.


“Maintaining St. Mary’ accreditation as a Chest Pain Center requires a tremendous and ongoing commitment to implementing constantly improving standards and best practices,” said Montez Carter, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Health Care System. “Accreditation assures our patients, providers and community that we are providing the highest level of heart attack care possible, day-in and day-out.”


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 730,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. The most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. Other heart attack symptoms include, but are not limited to, tingling or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck or jaw; shortness of breath; cold sweat; unusual tiredness; heartburn-like feeling; nausea or vomiting; sudden dizziness and fainting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms.


Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a non-surgical procedure that opens narrowed or blocked coronary arteries with a balloon to relieve symptoms of heart disease or to reduce heart damage during or after a heart attack. PCI is also known as coronary angioplasty and includes implanting a spring-like device called a stent into the artery to keep it open after the balloon is withdrawn.


Hospitals that have earned ACC Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation have proven exceptional competency in treating patients with heart attack symptoms and have primary PCI available 24/7 every day of the year. As required to meet the criteria of the accreditation designation, they have streamlined their systems from admission to evaluation to diagnosis and treatment. Their services extend all the way through to appropriate post-discharge care along with recommendations and assistance in helping patients make lifestyle changes. In addition, accredited facilities have formal agreements with other facilities that regularly refer heart attack patients to their facility for primary PCI.


“St. Mary’s Hospital has demonstrated its commitment to providing Northeast Georgia with excellent heart care,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, FACC, chair of the ACC Accreditation Management Board. “ACC Accreditation Services is proud to award St. Mary’s with Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation.”


Hospitals receiving Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation from the ACC must take part in a multi-facetedclinical process that involves: completing a gap analysis, examining variances of care, developing an action plan, completing a rigorous onsite review, and monitoring for sustained success.


Improved methods and strategies of caring for patients include streamlining processes, implementing guidelines and standards, and adopting best practices in the care of patients experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Facilities that achieve accreditation meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and have organized a team of doctors, nurses, clinicians, and administrative staff who earnestly support these efforts, leading to better patient education and improved patient outcomes.


St. Mary’s cardiac services include not only emergency and non-emergency PCI, but electrophysiology, heart failure care, device implantation and follow-up, state-of-the-art diagnostics, inpatient care, cardiac rehabilitation, wellness services, research, a cardio-oncology program, and outpatient care through Oconee Heart and Vascular Center, with multiple offices across the region.


The ACC offers U.S. and international hospitals access to a comprehensive suite of cardiac accreditation services designed to optimize patient outcomes and improve hospital financial performance. These services are focused on all aspects of cardiac care, including emergency treatment of heart attacks.


About St. Mary’s Hospital

St. Mary’s Hospital is the flagship hospital of St. Mary’s Health Care System, a member of Trinity Health. St. Mary’s is a three-hospital, nonprofit, faith-based health ministry whose mission is to be a compassionate and transforming healing presence in the communities it serves. St. Mary’s is a certified chest pain center and a gold-plus hospital for stroke care and has a special focus on neurosciences, orthopedics, cardiac care, general medicine/general surgery, and women’s and children’s health.


About the American College of Cardiology

The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit