UCHealth Memorial Central hospital

UCHealth Memorial is the first hospital in Colorado — and only the 14th nationwide — to achieve the American College of Cardiology’s elite HeartCARE Center designation.

The designation is the highest recognition given by the American College of Cardiology to hospitals that meet criteria demonstrating a commitment to providing exceptional cardiovascular care.  

“Attaining this designation underscores our commitment to provide the very best cardiovascular care to the community,” Dr. Jose Melendez, UCHealth Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer said in a news release issued by UCHealth Apr. 19. “We have met all of the rigorous elements — and more — to receive this award.

“I am proud of our forward-thinking cardiovascular team and thank them for dedication to excellence in heart health.”

To become a HeartCARE Center: National Distinction of Excellence facility, a hospital must meet specific criteria, including at least two other cardiovascular accreditations and participation in quality improvement programs that enhance patient care and outcomes.

Memorial’s achievements to receive the HeartCARE designation include:

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  • Accreditation by the ACC for its Atrial Fibrillation program. AFib — an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia — can lead to heart failure, blood clots, stroke and other complications.
  • Accreditation as a Chest Pain Center at the highest level possible. Memorial is able to offer the most advanced care and treatments available for cardiac arrest, including coronary artery chronic total occlusion repair; balloon catheter and stent placement; and x-ray exams of the coronary arteries and heart chambers.
  • Participation in the National Cardiac Data Registry, which measures the hospital’s heart care outcomes against other hospitals nationally. The registry ensures health care facilities provide evidenced-based care to improve patient outcomes and include data from complex heart procedures.
  • At least two specialists designated as “CV champions” — those who are recognized as leaders in cardiovascular care. Among those recognized at Memorial are Dr. Peter Walinsky, cardiac surgery; Dr. Mark Boulware, Chest Pain Center/cath lab; Dr. Brad Mikaelian, arrhythmia; and RN Dawn Lovejoy, manager of the cath lab.

“Our quality data — in addition to showing excellent outcomes for our patients — clearly illustrates that we are sending patients home on the right medications and with the right resources to help them stay out of the hospital in the future,” said Joel Yuhas, president and CEO of Memorial Hospital. “Memorial exceeds national benchmarks for cardiovascular procedures, and we are constantly using data to make improvements to our program to both increase patient satisfaction and better our outcomes.”

Memorial’s quality data, according to the release, shows its door-to-balloon time — the time it takes for a patient to get from the Emergency Department to the cath lab and have a vessel blockage opened — is half that of national guidelines.

The American College of Cardiology guidelines recommend an artery be reopened within 90 minutes for the best outcomes; Memorial’s average for March was only 46 minutes.

Other quality data shows 98.4 percent of procedures in the hospital’s Watchman program for stroke prevention were complication-free vs. a national average of 92 percent, according to Memorial. Outcomes for the hospital’s transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) program are superior to the national averages for the nation’s highest-volume TAVR centers.