Print this page

UAB awarded Primary Heart Attack Center Certification

  • August 31, 2021
UAB’s STEMI program has been awarded the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.

Exterior shot of UAB HospitalUAB’s STEMI program has been awarded the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.
(Photography: Steve Wood)
The University of Alabama at Birmingham has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval confirming UAB Hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute designation as an Advanced Primary Heart Attack Center. 

The Gold Seal is a symbol of quality that reflects UAB Hospital’s commitment to providing safe, evidence-based cardiac care to heart attack patients. The certification evaluates how UAB Hospital uses clinical outcomes and performance measures to improve care, as well as to educate and prepare patients and their caregivers for leaving the hospital.  

“This accreditation demonstrates UAB’s incredible teamwork and commitment to excellence in our cardiovascular program across the board,” said Mustafa Ahmed, M.D., director of Interventional Cardiology. “Our patients can be extremely confident that our heart attack program upholds the very highest standards of excellence and commitment to quality.” 

This was a collaborative effort by Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System, UAB Hospital, UAB Hospital-HighlandsUAB Medical WestUAB Medicine Hoover and Gardendale Freestanding Emergency Department

“When it comes to the heart, time is tissue,” said Firas Al Solaiman, M.D., director of the Primary Heart Attack Center. “The sooner we begin caring for the patient, the less muscle they lose and the less heart complications they have in the future. For this certification, we shifted our focus to starting the clock at the first medical contact the patient has with paramedics on the scene, which has allowed us to reduce our treatment time substantially.” 

When EMS arrives on the scene, they perform an electrocardiogram, which records the electrical signal from the heart and allows health care personnel to diagnose a heart attack. EMS sends the EKG results to UAB’s emergency room, so the ER can begin preparing the exam room for the patient’s procedure. This process has reduced UAB’s average door-to-procedure time by more than 50 percent and has played a large role in receiving this accreditation. 

Health care worker pointing at EKG screen“We are always looking at improving our patient care at UAB,” said Melesia Goolsby, R.N., MSN, Quality Improvement coordinator at the HVC Adult Cardiac Catheterization Lab. “This was a team effort by EMS and UAB’s Emergency Department services, as well as local hospitals and freestanding emergency departments, to continue building and growing an outstanding heart attack program for each of our patients.” 

For this certification, UAB submitted quarterly reports and underwent a thorough survey in which a Joint Commission reviewer evaluated UAB’s compliance with certification standards and the hospital’s ability to meet its standardized performance measures. The Joint Commission’s standards are developed in consultation with health care experts, providers and patients. They help health care organizations measure, assess and improve performance. For more information, visit the Joint Commission’s website.