Freeman again earns Level 1 STEMI Center designation

Jan. 15—The Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute has again earned Level 1 STEMI Center designation from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Freeman Health System received Level 1 honors in 2017, 2020 and 2023. These designations are valid for a three-year period, meaning Freeman will remain a STEMI Level 1 hospital through 2026.

STEMI stands for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, a serious heart attack in which one of the heart's main arteries is blocked. Due to the increased risk of death and disability, patients experiencing a STEMI require immediate care. Each year, more than 250,000 individuals experience a STEMI. To prevent death, Freeman said in a statement it is critical to restore blood flow quickly, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication. Freeman said in a statement it is equipped to treat STEMI patients by coordinating the 911 response system, ambulance services and hospitals in a comprehensive, integrated approach.

One of 16 Level 1 STEMI Missouri hospitals, Freeman has a door-to-balloon time of less than 55 minutes, lower than the 90-minute recommendation.

"Patients taken to non-specializing nearby hospitals often face critical delays in treatment because they need an initial evaluation before being triaged to a specialized hospital, such as Freeman," Paula Baker, Freeman President and CEO, said in a statement. "This more integrated and coordinated approach will help a greater number of people survive and recover from a heart attack."

To earn the Level 1 STEMI designation, Freeman completed a certification process that included paramedics, nursing staff, physicians, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, system quality analysts and administration. The hospital had to demonstrate it has the providers and resources needed to treat STEMI patients, and its physicians and staff have met and will continue to meet strict standards of education and demonstrate proficiency in the latest proven STEMI treatments.

"The STEMI Level 1 designation is a testament to the teams that we have at Freeman and the collaboration that takes place on each and every STEMI patient to ensure that we are providing not only efficient care, but quality and accurate care each time," Freeman STEMI Coordinator Michelle Wolfe, RN, RCIS, said in a statement.

In 2023, Freeman also received the Platinum Performance Achievement Award for Chest Pain — MI Registry from the American College of Cardiology, and the Quality Achievement Awards Mission Lifeline: STEMI Gold Plus and NSTEMI Gold awards from the American Heart Association.