Sycamore Shoals Hospital | News Article

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

SSH earns TJC certifications for heart failure, chest pain programs

Sycamore Shoals Hospital team members of the chest pain and heart failure programs, left to right: (front row) Cheryl Ewing, Angie Johnson, Regina Barkley, Kristi Dugger, Donna McDowell; (back row) Dr. Makram Jurdi, Cindy Verzi, Melanie Stanton, Gina Tucker (not pictured: Karen Sluss)


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. – In Northeast Tennessee, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people 65 and up and the second-leading cause for ages 22-64. It’s a serious concern, but Sycamore Shoals Hospital is fighting back.

The hospital recently received certification from The Joint Commission for both its chest pain and heart failure programs. The certifications recognize the outstanding clinical results and robust processes Sycamore Shoals has developed that improve the quality of life for patients with heart disease.

In late August, the hospital engaged in a rigorous two-day, on-site review with the accrediting body and recently received word of the dual certification.  The survey team at Sycamore Shoals, led by the efforts of the Chest Pain Center coordinator, Karen Sluss, included several nurses, physicians and staff members at the hospital.

“Our team of clinicians has worked hard to match hospital services to the needs of the community,” said Dwayne Taylor, chief executive officer for Sycamore Shoals Hospital. “The certifications are important to us because we know heart disease is such a problem in our area. It's definitely a team approach. We not only want to provide the best treatment for patients but also to educate the public so they can hopefully prevent heart disease or at least recognize the signs and symptoms early.”

Both programs follow the American College of Cardiology Foundation and the American Heart Association guidelines for management of heart disease, and they use an interdisciplinary approach that includes people from all parts of the care team.

Here’s a quick look at what each program offers as part of its certification:


The heart failure program at Sycamore Shoals consists of both on-site treatment and community education. The treatment element involves both community and hospital-based physicians, as well as nursing and case management at the hospital. Patient and community education focuses on how to incorporate lifestyle changes into the daily routine and how to recognize signs and symptoms of a worsening condition. After treatment, there’s follow-up consultation with a primary care provider within seven days of discharge, and patients receive a call from the hospital to follow up on their care and needs at home.


The chest pain program at Sycamore Shoals is centered around the Chest Pain Center, a 13-bed, EKG-monitored unit on the hospital’s second floor. Patients admitted to the Chest Pain Center have been evaluated in the emergency department or in another facility to rule out emergent causes of chest pain. The patient may also be a direct admit from a physician’s office.  The goal of the Chest Pain Center is to provide testing to rule out heart attack and provide the highest achievable level of care in a timely manner to patients admitted to the unit. The care team involved in the Chest Pain Center includes physicians, nurses, respiratory and physical therapy team members and a registered dietitian. The program also provides education throughout the admission process about awareness and lifestyle changes to promote healthy hearts.

“These programs absolutely save lives and make a difference for the people in our community,” Taylor said.

The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 21,000 healthcare organizations across the United States and offers disease-specific certifications to validate adherence to evidence-based care.