ALBANY, N.Y., June 30, 2005 – Albany Medical Center is the first hospital in the Capital Region, and one of only a handful in the nation, to install public access defibrillators in patient and non-patient care areas throughout its facility. These automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are the devices that have become popular in airports, malls, ballparks, and other public places. Eleven devices have now been placed in high traffic areas in the Medical Center and its off-sites for use in sudden cardiac arrest.
“The goal of the program is to provide immediate care to anyone who requires emergency cardiac care (defibrillation) where defibrillators previously were not available. This means we can now respond very quickly if someone goes into cardiac arrest in the cafeteria, a lobby, or other public areas,” said Bruce Ushkow, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Albany Medical Center and medical director for the City of Albany’s EMS system.
For every minute that goes by once cardiac arrest has occurred, survival time goes down by 10 percent, and after five minutes without treatment the majority of people do not survive. While CPR can buy some time, defibrillation, which can restore a normal heart rhythm, should be provided as quickly as possible, according to Dr. Ushkow. In-hospital defibrillation should be provided within three minutes, according to the International Standards for Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care.
In the United States, about 350,000 people die suddenly from cardiac arrest, when the heart’s normal electrical system is disrupted, rendering a person unconscious. This most often occurs in people over 50 with underlying heart disease, but it can occur in anyone of any age—even children. An electric jolt from a defibrillator is needed to reverse the condition.
Several studies have shown that having defibrillators located where there are large groups of people has saved lives.
The public defibrillators at Albany Med can be operated by any person trained in their use—which includes about 70 percent of the Albany Medical Center staff. This training is part of AMC’s basic lifesaving protocol for caregivers and is also offered to non-patient care employees.
“If someone goes into cardiac arrest in the overpass to our parking garage, chances are very good that someone trained to use a defibrillator will be close by. Now, that person will have a defibrillator handy so they can provide care in the first few vital minutes,” said Dr. Ushkow.
The AEDs are located in the following places at Albany Med and its off-site locations: the overpass to the parking garage; lobbies in the patient tower building, Albany Medical College and the South Clinical Campus on Hackett Blvd.; Choices CafÉ; the Internal Medicine Group at Pinnacle Place; the HIV Medicine department on Hackett Blvd.; the Latham Medical/Pediatrics facility; the outpatient physical medicine and rehabilitation building on Central Ave.; the Pediatric Group on Clara Barton Drive; and the Allergy and Movement Disorders Center on Washington Ave. Extension.
The AEDs at Albany Med can be used on children as well as adults.
“I really feel that we are on the cutting edge in offering this technology to our visitors,” said Dr. Ushkow. “This still is not common in hospitals, and while it may not be necessary in smaller institutions where inpatient defibrillators are close by, it absolutely makes sense for a large institution like Albany Med. I see it as a major improvement in the quality of care that we deliver here and in continuing our mission to serve the public.”
Albany Medical Center is northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center. It consists of one of the nation’s oldest medical schools, Albany Medical College; one of New York’s largest teaching hospitals, Albany Medical Center Hospital; and one of the Capital Region’s most active fund-raising organizations, the Albany Medical Center Foundation, Inc.