For All Our Sakes...New Jersey Law Must Be Changed!
An antiquated law denies New Jersey patients access to cardiac care at
their local community hospitals and needs to be changed, for all our sakes.
In fact, New Jersey is one of only two states that do not allow elective
angioplasty procedures in their local community hospitals.
Barbara T. had chest pains. Saint Clare’s is the closest hospital
so when the ambulance arrived, she asked to be transported to the hospital
that was less than 18 minutes away. “When I got there, they did
an EKG and compared it to my last EKG and they said that there was a significant
difference, so I needed a catheterization,” said Barbara. This was
Monday. On Tuesday morning the catheterization was performed, and they
discovered blockages in her arteries. At least one stent was needed and
“since this was not an ‘emergency’ procedure I would
need to be transported to Morristown.”
Morristown was unable to fit her into their schedule until Thursday at
which point she was transported, an additional catheterization was performed,
and the stents were implanted. She was finally released on Friday.
“I had quite a lot of pain. It was pretty upsetting to know that
I had to hang around and wait to go to Morristown to have them put these
stents in,” said Barbara. “This was very uncomfortable and
upsetting situation and I don’t know why I could not have had the
procedure done right away.”
Cardiac patients must travel out of their local areas and familiar surroundings
to facilities that perform open heart surgery for a procedure that is
consistently performed at Saint Clare’s on an emergency basis.
Ironically, seven years previously Barbara also had chest pains and was
sent to Saint Clare’s where she was diagnosed with a heart attack.
In that case an immediate catheterization and stent were able to be performed
at Saint Clare’s. The contradiction in cardiac care is mind boggling
“Because I didn’t show any cardiac arrest, they said I could
wait. Had I gone into cardiac arrest while waiting I would have been able
to have the emergency procedure at Saint Clare’s.”
Obviously cardiac issues run in the family because in 2012 her son, who
was 40, had chest pains and went to Saint Clare’s. This was at 8:30
in the morning, and at 6:30 in the evening he had to be moved to Morristown.
“Fortunately, he only had to wait 12 hours while I had to wait two
days. I don’t understand the concept. It’s not fair to the
patient to be putting them through this,” said Barbara.
Saint Clare’s Health is a CMS Five Star rated and an award-winning
provider of safe, high quality, compassionate care serving the communities
of Morris and Sussex Counties. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Five
Star rating is based on 100 rigorously tested quality measures at more
than 4,000 Medicare certified hospitals as well as Veteran Health Administration
and military health systems. Saint Clare’s is also a Leapfrog A-rated
hospital for patient safety multiple times.
It is regarded in the top 10% of the nation for coronary intervention procedures
and a Five Star recipient for pacemaker procedures. The list goes on and
on about the third-party recognitions this local community hospital has
received in the areas of cardiac care.
Despite all of these third-party recognitions and others, an outdated law
prohibits Saint Clare’s cardiac patients from receiving elective
angioplasty at their local hospital.
New Jersey is out of step with 48 other states, including Pennsylvania,
New York, and Delaware that allow their community hospitals to perform
this lifesaving procedure. The irony is that it can be performed on an
emergency basis when conditions are even more severe. Forcing cardiac
patients to travel out of their local areas and familiar surroundings
to major facilities that perform open heart surgery for a procedure that
is consistently performed at Saint Clare’s on an emergency basis
makes no sense.
It’s time for this contradiction in care to be corrected. Scientific
data and a state-funded study all validate the effectiveness of elective
angioplasty in a community hospital, yet New Jersey patients continue
to face a limited choice and delayed care.
Barbara’s dad is 102 years old and naturally has heart issues. He
lives eight minutes away from Saint Clare’s, but “I worry
that when his time comes to be rushed to an emergency room Saint Clare’s
will still not be authorized to do stents,” said Barbara. “He
lives 30 minutes away from Morristown. It’s a little scary for us
to know this.”
It’s time...it’s time for the New Jersey legislature to right
this archaic wrong. Contact your State Assemblyman and State Senators
and tell them to put patients first and pass A3769 and S2427.
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