Helmsley Grant to Improve Heart Attack Care in South Dakota

Updated:Oct 26,2012

Mission: Lifeline + AHAThe Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association announced April 19, 2010 that it has received $8.4 million in funding over three years from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to implement Mission: Lifeline, a
community-based initiative aimed at improving the system
of care for heart attack patients, throughout South Dakota.
More about Mission: Lifeline South Dakota

“This grant is one of the largest ever received by the American Heart Association and we are so grateful to The Helmsley Charitable Trust for the opportunity they’ve given us,” said Darrin Smith, Senior Director of Advocacy and State Health Alliances for the association. “It is a tremendous affirmation of the importance of Mission: Lifeline and positions South Dakota as a leader in our nationwide effort. This is a historic day for heart attack patient care in our state, and as a lifelong South Dakotan, I’m so proud we will be leading the way nationally right here in South Dakota.”

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans have a type of heart attack known as an ST-elevated myocardial infarction, or STEMI, in which blood flow is completely blocked to a portion of the heart. Unless the blockage is eliminated quickly, the patient’s health and life are at serious risk. Currently, around two-thirds of STEMI patients fail to receive the best available treatments to restore blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. Although Mission: Lifeline is focused on improving the system of care for patients who suffer from a STEMI each year, improving that system will ultimately improve care for all heart attack patients.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, South Dakota is in the Class 5 category for STEMI death rates, making it one of the states with the highest STEMI death rates in the nation.

“The full implementation of Mission: Lifeline with this grant will save lives in the Black Hills region, throughout western South Dakota, and indeed all across the state,” said James Walder, M.D.,  cardiologist with Regional Heart Doctors in Rapid City and chairman of the South Dakota Mission: Lifeline Task Force.

The grant will fund the critical elements of an optimal STEMI system of care: assistance to every ambulance service in the state in acquiring 12-lead ECG equipment and comprehensive 12-lead ECG training; transmission and receiving equipment for STEMI-referring and receiving hospitals; a system-wide data tool for quality measurement and improvement; ongoing medical provider training and education; development of STEMI protocols for EMS and hospital personnel; regional plans for rapid transport and/or transfer of patients; and an aggressive public education campaign on heart attack signs and symptoms and the need to activate the 9-1-1 system.

“Mission: Lifeline will enhance our existing systems and enable us to create new systems of care for heart attack patients in areas we have only dreamed about until now,” said Tom Stys, M.D., Medical Director of Cardiology Services and interventional cardiologist with Sanford Heart Hospital and member of the American Heart Association’s Midwest Affiliate board of directors.

More than 20 stakeholders from across the state will be involved in the implementation of Mission: Lifeline, with representation from large and small hospitals and ambulance services as well as the American College of Cardiology, the South Dakota Department of Health and the South Dakota Office of EMS.

“The success of Mission: Lifeline will translate into dramatically improved heart attack patient care all across South Dakota, and improved patient care means lives saved,” said Tom Isaacson M.D., Medical Director at Avera Heart Hospital and interventional cardiologist with North Central Heart Institute.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust provides funding for innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to specialty medical care, provides the latest medical therapies and facilitates programs for underserved populations that place particular stress on existing health care facilities and local governments. The Mission: Lifeline funding is part of the Helmsley Rural Health Program which over the last two years awarded a total of more than $41 million in grants to institutions and organizations in the upper Midwest. 

About the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Trust, established in 1999, is administered by five trustees selected by Leona Helmsley as a continuation of Mr.and Mrs. Helmsley’s generous giving through their lifetimes.  The Trust supports a diverse range of organizations with a major focus on health and medical research, in addition to programs in human services, education and conservation.  The Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits.  Since 2009, The Trust has announced $250 million in grants to charitable organizations across the United States and abroad. 

For more information please contact:
Jen (Wahle) McKeown, 605-310-8606
Darrin Smith, 605-941-4102