Residents with heart attack symptoms who arrive at hospitals in either Bracebridge or Huntsville or who call 911 may now be taken by ambulance to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie for their lifesaving treatment.
As of Tuesday, heart attack patients in Muskoka have access to the ‘gold standard’ of care, which is achieved when a patient receives advanced cardiac care in less than 120 minutes from first medical contact.
“Having these advanced cardiac services and a highly-skilled team at RVH’s Cardiac Intervention Unit (CIU), means that now the majority of patients in Simcoe and Muskoka will be able to get lifesaving intervention within 120 minutes of a heart attack,” says Dr. Tony Lee, medical director of RVH’s CIU. “Extending this new cardiac protocol to Muskoka would not be possible without the full collaboration of all our health partners in this region.”
This change is the result of an important new heart attack process called the Simcoe Muskoka Code STEMI Protocol, first introduced to Simcoe County in November 2020. This phased, gradual approach to bringing advanced cardiac care to the people of Simcoe Muskoka is a partnership between RVH, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, Rama Paramedic Service, Muskoka Paramedic Services and area hospitals.
“We are excited to see the gold standard of heart care reach the Muskoka region in collaboration with our emergency medical services partners at Muskoka Paramedic Services,” says Dr. John Simpson, Director and Chief of Emergency Medicine at MAHC. “This change in heart attack protocol means eligible patients in Muskoka can get the required medical care closer to home through the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Heart Program in Barrie.”
Since December, residents of Simcoe County, including Rama First Nation, who call 911 or arrive at an area hospital, with heart attack symptoms have been transported directly to RVH for care.
“Our paramedics will now be able to use their knowledge, assessment skills and tools to quickly begin treatment, and potentially improve outcomes by directly transporting patients to RVH for rapid definitive treatment,” says Jeff McWilliam, Chief, Paramedic Services and Emergency Planning for the District of Muskoka. “We value the partnerships with RVH, Muskoka Ambulance Communication Service, MAHC and Sunnybrook Centre for Prehospital Medicine as we would not be able to provide this level of service without the collaborative efforts of all.”
The regional heart program, a partnership with Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, opened in January 2018 and since then the cardiac team has completed just over 7,000 heart procedures including angiograms, angioplasty and pacemaker implants.