HOUSTON (December 19, 2008)

CEO Dan Wolterman Thirty Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organizations from across the Greater Houston Area were recognized for their commitment to working collaboratively, with their healthcare system partners, to enhance pre-hospital medical care for stroke and heart attack patients at a special ceremony Friday, December 19, at 10 a.m. in front of Houston City Hall. Memorial Hermann President & CEO Dan Wolterman presented the System's "2008 Breakthroughs Award" to EMS representatives, and Congressman Gene Green and Representative Garnet Coleman applauded the efforts of the healthcare providers.

Over the past year, the area's various EMS agencies, such as the Houston Fire Department EMS, worked closely with representatives from Memorial Hermann's acute care hospitals to help all nine hospitals achieve accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers - the largest such city-wide network in the nation. Besides attending a series of meetings and sharing ambulance data, they participated in site visits with the accrediting body, adapted processes to enhance patient treatment, such as notifying the ER to activate the appropriate team, and added ambulance equipment as necessary to improve patient care.

Accredited Chest Pain Centers work to quickly diagnose cardiac patients, begin treatment within minutes and significantly improve the chance of a positive outcome. Studies show that Chest Pain Centers reduce mortality rates by 37 percent. The emphasis of Chest Pain Centers includes focusing on high-risk patients, as well as decreasing unnecessary admissions of low risk patients with chest pain.

In recognizing the EMS, Wolterman said: "Earning chest pain center accreditation at all nine of our hospitals speaks to the breadth and depth of cardiac services available at Memorial Hermann. But accreditation is not possible without multidisciplinary cooperation and coordination between emergency medical services, emergency medicine, cardiology, internal medicine and hospital administration. The multidisciplinary care pathways, quality assurance processes and cardiac programs must be firmly in place and continually monitored before chest pain center accreditation is granted."

In addition, Wolterman announced that Memorial Hermann has established the region's largest stroke care network in the region, encompassing all of Memorial Hermann's acute care hospitals. Shared protocols at all of these facilities allow staff to diagnose and treat patients within the critical first three hours of a stroke and when necessary transfer patients to a higher level of care including the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Capabilities include the use of telemedicine technology to enable neurologists across the Memorial Hermann network to observe patients and assist with treatment from any location. Through the use of real-time imaging technology, patients have access to network-wide expertise and the area's only on-site, 24/7 dedicated stroke team.

"The EMS organizations in our community were integral to our efforts to create a city-wide chest pain and stroke network that offers patients immediate access to exceptional care when minutes can mean the difference between life and death," said Dan Wolterman, CEO of the Memorial Hermann system. "In particular, the chest pain accreditation program's success depends on outside team support from paramedics and emergency medical technicians. I sincerely appreciate their dedication to our communities, and I am honored to have the opportunity to recognize each provider personally."

"From the implementation of new techniques and processes to partnering with Memorial Hermann and other hospitals on patient care initiatives, EMS in the greater Houston Area are always ready to do what is necessary to advance the level of care available to our community. We are fortunate to have the best emergency medical services in the country right here in Houston," added Congressman Gene Green.