Chest Pain Center

St. Tammany Health System has earned full accreditation with PCI from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC). The faster the response to a heart attack the more effective it is, so knowing where the nearest accredited chest pain center is can save a patient’s life.

Leading the Northshore and the state, St. Tammany Health System earns high marks with 97 percent of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients receiving percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) within 90 minutes of arrival or less. PCI opens blocked blood vessels and restores blood flow to the heart. The earlier PCI is performed, the more effective it is.

St. Tammany Health System leads the way in cardiac care in the region, with the latest cath and peripheral labs, state-of-the-art operating suites, certified cardiac rehab, Coumadin clinic and active staff relationships with the region’s leading cardiology and cardiovascular specialists.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 people dying annually of heart disease. More than 5 million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. SCPC’s goal is to significantly reduce the mortality rate of these patients by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, reduce the time that it takes to receive treatment, and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.

The Accredited Chest Pain Center’s protocol-driven and systematic approach to patient management allows physicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack, when treatments are most effective, and to better monitor patients when it is not clear whether or not they are having a coronary event. Such observation helps ensure that patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.

With the increase in chest pain centers came the need to establish standards designed to improve the consistency and quality of care provided to patients. SCPC’s accreditation process ensures that centers meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine.

The Accredited Chest Pain Center at St. Tammany Health System has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and undergoing an onsite review by a team of SPCP’s accreditation review specialists. Key areas in which an Accredited Chest Pain Center must demonstrate expertise include the following:

  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring the competence and training of Accredited Chest Pain Center personnel
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack


To further improve emergency care for patients throughout the region, St. Tammany Health System held its most recent drill in July in collaboration with Northshore EMS, Acadian Ambulance and Riverside Medical Center in Franklinton to evaluate the process and guidelines of what happens when a patient is experiencing a heart attack.

The goal of these drills it to constantly improve the patient’s outcome by working together to reduce response and treatment time to elevate the quality and delivery of care.

“This is a huge coordination of resources between healthcare facilities and EMS, and it is an extension of our commitment to improve cardiac care throughout the Washington and St. Tammany parishes,” said Michelle Hickman RN, department of head of nursing and Chest Pain Center Coordinator for St. Tammany Health System. “The drill may be part of our reaccreditation process as a Chest Pain Center, but it also ensures our team and healthcare partners remain at the top of our game.”

The ST elevation myocardial infraction, or STEMI, drill started about 8:30 a.m. with a mock patient - Crystal Lyons, director of clinical operations at Riverside Medical Center – calling 911 from a local business in Franklinton complaining of general heart attack symptoms.

Northshore EMS picked her up and took her to Riverside, where she was quickly assessed and treated for chest pain by Dr. Frank Volker. Once the ECG showed the patient was experiencing a STEMI, physicians ordered Lyons transferred to STHS’s cath lab for immediate percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). A rig from Acadian Ambulance Service was onsite to transport the mock STEMI patient to Covington.

Upon arrival at STHS, Dr. Bruce Ennis responded to the Lyons’ need for coronary intervention. The Emergency Room and cath lab staff quickly transferred the patient to the cath lab, where the patient underwent the necessary steps to restore blood flow via an angiogram.

Observers from both facilities were present at Riverside and STHS.  The observers documented each step of the drill, and participants reviewed notes together in a debriefing session in an effort to collect information to  further improve the process.