Mission: Lifeline Improves Heart Care in North Dakota

Updated:Sep 20,2012


Mission Lifeline ND LaunchBismarck, ND – The Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association announced today that it has secured $7.1 million in funding to implement Mission: Lifeline, a community-based initiative aimed at improving the system of care for heart attack patients, throughout North Dakota.

In an unprecedented collaborative effort, the initiative will be implemented over three years with funding from key partners that share a commitment to improving outcomes for patients across the state. Lead funder is The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is providing two-thirds of the total with a grant of $4.4 million. Since 2009, The Helmsley Charitable Trust has invested more than $25 million in North Dakota in rural healthcare initiatives.

(Photo Back row:  Jolene Englehart (ND advocacy committee), June Herman (RVP Advocacy), Kevin Harker, Janet Maxson (AHA advocacy committee), Representative Jon Nelson – legislative champion.
Front row:  Shelley Stingley (Helmsley), Joan Enderle (Communications), Governor Jack Dalrymple, Pam Miller (AHA grassroots), Carrie McLeod (ND Advocacy Chair), Bonnie Staiger (AHA lobbyist) and Bill Roach (national board chairman))

The State of North Dakota has committed $600,000, and a combined $1.3 million will be contributed by North Dakota’s largest healthcare systems: Trinity in Minot; Altru in Grand Forks; Essentia in Fargo; MedCenter One in Bismarck; Sanford Health in Fargo; and St. Alexius-PrimeCare in Bismarck. The Dakota Medical Foundation is supporting the initiative with a $100,000 grant, and the Otto Bremer Foundation has also committed $100,000 to Mission: Lifeline. In addition to overseeing and implementing the program, the American Heart Association will invest more than $430,000 in the initiative. The association is working with stakeholders and community partners to raise the remaining $100,000 needed to fully implement Mission: Lifeline across the state. The program will launch September 1, 2011.

“This initiative  represents a significant investment in North Dakota’s healthcare system, especially in our rural areas,”  said Gov. Jack Dalrymple.  “We are pleased to be partnering with The Helmsley Charitable Trust, and private and nonprofit organizations across the state to provide these important, lifesaving services to our citizens.”

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, North 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.

 “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 Jeff Sather, MD, Trinity Health System Emergency Director.   “The success of Mission: Lifeline will translate into dramatically improved heart attack patient care all across North Dakota, and improved patient care means lives saved.”

The grants 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.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust and the American Heart Association launched Mission: Lifeline in South Dakota in July 2010. To date,115 of the state’s 133 EMS agencies have received 12-lead ECG machines, with the rest of the equipment to be placed by the end of August 2011; 25 of South Dakota’s 50 hospitals are equipped with software to receive 12-lead ECG transmissions from EMS in the field; all six PCI centers are ready to begin entering data in ACTION Registry-Get With The Guidelines to measure quality of care and patient outcomes; and 1,600 EMS staff in six of the state’s seven EMS districts have been trained to read and interpret 12-lead ECGs.  At least one STEMI “save” with a good outcome has been documented in South Dakota since the launch of Mission: Lifeline.

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 North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota Division of EMS.

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 Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Rural Healthcare Program, which began awarding grants in 2009. It funds programs that provide rural healthcare to people in the upper Midwest. In the last two years, the Helmsley Trust has awarded more than $110 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in the region.