MAYWOOD, Ill – Hannah Gorman had been feeling unwell for several days but when she awoke to chest pains at 3:30 a.m., the Oak Park resident took action. “I believed I was having a heart attack,” the 20 year-old nursing student said. “I am aware of the medical symptoms from my medical training and I also have a family history of heart disease.”
Gorman was taken immediately to Loyola University Health System’s Emergency Department where a physician utilized point-of-care technology. “Swift assessment of patients complaining of chest pain means faster treatment and improved outcomes,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Loyola department of emergency medicine, whose team cared for Gorman. Using a hand-held device, the physician took a single blood sample that was used to analyze cardiac troponin, an indicator of heart disease, as well as blood glucose and blood gas levels. Results were available within minutes.
“I felt immediately cared for because the staff was taking action and, in minutes, I learned my test results and course of action for care,” the St. Louis University junior said. “Time matters in heart treatment, and Loyola made each second count in my favor.”
Loyola is the only academic medical center in Chicago to offer appropriate emergency department patients point-of-care testing. “Loyola is currently also testing use of the point-of-care testing in ambulances to help speed the diagnosis of heart disease, which speeds the initiation of lifesaving care ,” said Cichon, who has directed Loyola’s ED for the past 17 years. “Key to our research is that the accuracy of the results in the moving ambulance are equal to those conducted in the emergency department.”
Point-of-care testing is just one of several new advancements in Loyola’s emergency department. “Loyola has a physician in triage so patients are not only assessed faster, but treatment is expedited,” Cichon said. The Loyola emergency department recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation thanks to funding by the McCormick Foundation, Sally and Jim Dowdle and the John L. Keeley Jr. family. “The Loyola ED now delivers patient care faster and better for everyone,” Cichon said.
Since 1995, annual patient volumes in Loyola’s emergency division have increased from 29,000 to 53,000 patients. Loyola receives some of the region's most critically ill and injured patients, and the severity level of emergency admissions is among the highest in the country. Problems seen include major injuries from accidents, high-risk obstetrics, unstable cardiac conditions, poisonings and severe childhood illnesses. The 27-bed emergency facility is one of the most advanced in the Midwest and contains specialty care sections for trauma, cardiac care and pediatrics.
Loyola University Health System's (Loyola) hospital is designated by the state of Illinois as a Level I Trauma Center for both adult and pediatric patients. Additionally, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has verified the hospital's Level I Trauma Center status. Loyola is the only hospital in Illinois – and one of a select group nationwide – to earn this distinction.
“I was relieved to learn that I was not suffering a heart attack or stroke,” said Gorman, who received care from the ED and who then followed up through an appointment with her primary-care physician. “The point-of-care testing illustrates Loyola’s commitment to advanced academic medicine and to the health and safety of patients like me.”