Published on September 09, 2022

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center to offer 24/7 STEMI care

Essentia Health is proud to begin offering 24/7 STEMI care at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. The Marilyn Covey Heart and Vascular Center enhances the way heart attack patients are cared for in Brainerd.

An acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is the most severe type of heart attack and has a greater risk of serious complications and death. It is caused by the abrupt closure of a major coronary artery. Providing this level of care around the clock requires a highly skilled team of cardiovascular specialists, nurses and physicians and other caregivers who are trained specifically to work in a cardiac catheterization lab (cath lab), and who are capable of rapidly opening a blockage and restoring blood flow to the heart muscle.

Heart and Vascular CenterAbout 30% of patients suffering from a STEMI either do not receive timely treatment or don’t receive any treatment, often due to the lack of a nearby STEMI receiving center. This center in Brainerd aims to reduce that number and better serve the surrounding area.

“This directly saves more lives, and prevents further damage to the heart muscle, to optimally preserve cardiac function,” said Dr. Mike Curran, a cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. “Time is the most important factor when treating a STEMI patient. Having this capability available at all times — 24/7/365 — for patients in the Central Lakes Region will allow us to open their blocked arteries as expeditiously as possible, providing patients the care they need in a timely fashion, which will improve cardiovascular mortality and overall cardiovascular outcomes for those patients.”

A second cath lab and more imaging equipment are also being added. Teams staffing these labs are able to mobilize within minutes of being notified of an incoming patient, ensuring they are ready and able to provide immediate care for STEMI patients.

“We are dedicated to caring for the communities we are privileged to serve and always looking for ways to improve our care to establish positive patient outcomes,” said Dr. Curran. “Adding this service underscores Essentia’s commitment to the area and our dedication to saving lives and keeping people healthy.”

The Marilyn Covey Heart and Vascular Center was made possible by financial donations from the center’s namesake. A Minnesota native, Marilyn made several contributions to Essentia’s heart and vascular care program. Marilyn noticed a need for cardiac care in the region after several of her friends and family had to travel great lengths to be cared for. Her daughter, Lisa, said that inspired her mother to invest in the community so everyone had access to care close to home. 

“Giving back to her community was very important to my mother; she wanted to see the Brainerd community grow,” Lisa said. “It’s inspiring to see her donations live after her passing and continue helping the place she loved so much.” 

Each year, about 3,000 Minnesotans suffer a STEMI and need immediate emergency care. Until now, the nearest STEMI center to Brainerd was in St. Cloud, about 65 miles away. By adding this service, Essentia is making it easier for patients in Brainerd, Wadena, McGregor, Little Falls and elsewhere in our region to receive this life-saving care.

A ribbon-cutting and open house will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12, to celebrate these new services.