The American Heart Association has recognized three South Dakota hospitals and one ambulance service with quality achievement awards for heart and stroke care.

Avera Heart Hospital, Sanford USD Medical Center, Paramedics Plus and Rapid City Regional Hospital were all recognized with Mission Lifeline Awards for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.

Avera Heart Hospital received the Gold Award for Receiving Centers, Sanford USD Medical Center received the Gold Plus Award for Receiving Centers, Paramedics Plus received the EMS Bronze Award and Rapid City Regional Hospital received the Bronze Plus Award for Receiving Centers.

Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the most deadly type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a significant number of STEMI patients don’t receive this prompt treatment.

Mission Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. The Mission Lifeline program in South Dakota was made possible by the historic $8.4 million dollar gift from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to the American Heart Association, which began the process to improve the system of care for heart attack patients.

“These awards illustrate that South Dakota has become a model system for rural states across the nation,” said Gary Myers, Director Mission Lifeline South Dakota and EMS Consultant for Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association. “Our institutions are helping to create a new standard of rural care for heart attack patients and it is very exciting that South Dakota has gone from leading the country in heart attack death rates to leading the way in heart attack care.”

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