For Immediate Release May 03, 2024

A group of Cardiac Catheterization Lab team members stands in front of the C-arm in the Cath lab of UM Shore Regional Health.

Pictured from left, are: AnnMarie Conteh, CVT; Todd Newell, RN; Kevin Keller, RN; Sydney Serwatka, RN; Jon Oliver, RN; Angela Lord, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Cath Lab Manager; Melanie Hernandez, CVT; William Huffner, MD, MBA, FACEP, FACHE, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs; Dean Lake, RN; Ryan Martin, CVT; Hilary Schmitt, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Operations; Joshua King, CVT; and Timothy Shanahan, DO, Medical Director, UM Shore Medical Group.

UM Shore Regional Health’s (UM SRH) Heart and Vascular Center team recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the reaccreditation of the Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton. The gathering acknowledged the team and celebrated their hard work in securing the first re-accreditation of the Center. UM SRH is a member organization of the University of Maryland Medical System.

The CIC was designated for the first time in 2018 by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) and reaccreditation takes place every five years. The CIC was formally reaccredited in April 2023, but renovations and improvements to one of the catheterization labs in the CIC prevented the team from properly celebrating this significant accomplishment in 2023.

“Our reaccreditation can be attributed to the dedicated efforts that our CIC team puts into their day-to day-work,” said Hilary Schmitt, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Operations, UM SRH, and Director, Heart and Vascular Center at UM SRH. “Putting together the application is the easy part, but without each and every one of our team members, and their passion to save the lives of those suffering from a cardiac illness, we would not have the amazing cardiovascular program that we have today, and we would not be able to support and care for the communities we live in. I am so proud of this team, and so pleased to help them celebrate all of their hard work and devotion to our patients over the past five years. Here’s to many more years of success and saving lives in our communities.”

"In the past five years, our CIC program has cared for nearly 1,000 heart attack victims,” said Jeffrey Etherton, MD, Medical Director, Cardiac Catheterization Lab, UM SRH. “Many of these wonderful people would not be with us today if it weren't for the dedicated first responders, ER staff, telemetry and ICU staff at UM SRH, and also the extraordinary CIC nurses, technicians and interventional cardiologists. I am so proud of the hard work everyone has done to achieve this re-accreditation. I am proud to be part of this team, and I look forward to serving it for years to come."

Each year, the UM SRH Heart and Vascular team performs more than 200 emergency percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) for patients experiencing a STEMI (ST-elevated myocardial infarction) heart attack. PCI is a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure used to treat obstructive artery disease or blockages to restore and maintain blood supply to the heart. PCI can also be scheduled electively to treat non-emergent vessel blockage and cardiac disease.

Before the CIC designation, patients in the region experiencing heart attacks were transferred to the closest CIC that offered emergency treatment. 

Many STEMI patients were transported by ambulance or helicopter to hospitals in Annapolis, Salisbury, Seaford, Delaware or University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. These transfer decisions were based on proximity to CIC level of care, but also took into account traffic and other factors that could affect the survival of a patient. 

With the management of cardiac health and care, “time is muscle,” Schmitt said. The National Institute of Health defines door-to-balloon (D2B) time as the time from the arrival at the emergency department of patients with ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) until a catheter guidewire crosses the culprit lesion in the cardiac catheterization lab. Travel times alone pushed the boundaries of the desired target time of under 90 minutes. Easton’s CIC exceeds the national standard with an average “door-to-balloon” time of 60 minutes.

The team includes 18 nurses and technologists (full- and part-time) and three interventional cardiologists; Dr. Etherton, Gabriel Sardi, MD, and Aman Patel, MD. The CIC team is responsible for the care of cardiac emergencies 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year.

“Our CIC team makes considerable sacrifices to be able to offer this service to our community, and they are the heartbeat of our CIC team,” Schmitt said. “Being able to offer this service on the Eastern Shore is a gift to our communities.”