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Phoebe Heart & Vascular Earns State’s Highest Designation For Emergency Cardiac Care


The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has designated Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital a Level 1 Emergency Cardiac Care Center, Georgia’s highest level of emergency cardiac care.  Phoebe is the first and only hospital in Georgia south of Macon to earn this designation.

“We are delighted to achieve this Level 1 Emergency Cardiac Center designation from Georgia DPH,” said Joe Austin, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO.  “This confirms to our patients, and our community, that Phoebe stands ready to provide the highest possible level of lifesaving emergency cardiac care.”

The not-for-profit Albany-based hospital, which is the flagship of Phoebe Putney Health System, underwent an evaluation that included site inspections, as well as an emergency cardiac care process and equipment assessment.  To receive the Level I designation, a hospital must provide the highest level and most comprehensive emergency cardiac care services 24/7, 365 days a year.  Those emergency services include cardiac catheterization and angioplasty to treat patients suffering from a heart attack, as well as advanced cardiothoracic surgery capabilities and the ability to perform other surgical procedures, such as implanting automatic cardioverter defibrillators and percutaneous left ventricular assist devices. 

“We achieved Level 1 ECCC designation because we validated our expertise in all of these areas and more." stated Phoebe’s Vice President of Heart and Vascular Services, Doug Gregory.  “The review panel of state surveyors specifically noted our high-level leadership engagement, consistent processes that ensure rapid and effective care, and our culture of continuous improvement as outstanding and best in class.  Every team member who cares for a patient during the continuum of emergency cardiac care, including EMS, emergency services, the cardiac cath lab, the cardiac intensive care unit, the cardiac telemetry floor and all of the services that support these areas, had a hand in our successful designation,” Gregory added.

In 2017, legislation was signed into Georgia law to establish the Office of Cardiac Care within the Georgia DPH with a mission of improving survival rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and heart attacks, supported by the standardized data collection and reporting system of a cardiac registry.  The three-level designation system for Emergency Cardiac Care Centers was then established to help identify a hospital’s capability of providing emergency cardiac care services.

The different levels of Emergency Cardiac Care Center designations represent different levels of cardiac care that a hospital provides patients.  A Level 1 designation means the hospital is validated by state officials to perform open heart surgery, therapeutic hypothermia, interventional cardiac catheterizations, percutaneous coronary intervention and percutaneous left ventricle assist device.  A Level 2 designation means a hospital can perform catheterizations, therapeutic hypothermia, and must have a transfer agreement with a Level 1 center for patients requiring more advanced therapy, according to Phoebe officials.  A Level 3 designation means the hospital has validated their ability to stabilize the patient until they can be brought to a Level 1 or Level 2 center.

This legislation strengthens Georgia’s Emergency Medical Services system by making it easier to determine the types of cardiac care that are offered at each hospital and to help appropriately triage patients based on the severity of their condition.