For three years running, St. Mary's Medical Center has done a great job caring for cardiac patients coming through our doors. According to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry, which is connected to the American Colleges of Cardiology and Emergency Physicians, St. Mary's is among only 256 hospitals nationwide that do so - to the highest standards. It's known as the NCDR ACTION RegistryGWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2014.

The award recognizes St. Marys commitment and success in implementing that higher standard of care for its heart attack patients by reaching an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care specified by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association clinical guidelines and recommendations.

The GWTG part is "Get With The Guidelines" program through the American Heart Association (AHA). It is an in-hospital program for improving care by promoting consistent adherence to the latest scientific treatment guidelines. According to the AHA, numerous published studies demonstrate this program's success in achieving significant patient outcomes.

It's been my pleasure to help measure our successes. Why all the measurements? Well, say you're trying to lose weight. You'd never have a real good idea of how you were coming along if you never stepped onto a scale. Likewise, we wouldn't know how well we were doing for our patients without a close eye on every phase of a patient's journey, from their home to St. Mary's and back home again. We take this and benchmark our level of care against the performers of the nation and learn so much about where we are, what we want to maintain, and what we can improve.

It requires successful coordination of the cardiovascular team and emergency personnel and is a critical step in saving lives and improving the outcomes of heart attack patients. It is increasingly holistic. Our focus is to provide state-of-the-art cardiovascular care in a positive healing environment which includes preventing, detecting and managing complex cardiovascular disease.

It's an integrative approach to healing that fully addresses the body, mind and spirit components of health and wellness. The result is a powerful ability to heal hearts physically and metaphysically. An active engagement between the patient and healthcare practitioners can enhance the effectiveness of the healing process. This includes techniques can be learned and used by the patient alone.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 700,000 Americans suffer heart attacks each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling and cardiac rehabilitation, among others.

You can even have a personal heart risk assessment through the Carondelet Heart Institute at St. Mary's Medical Center, that will give you a very realistic picture of the state of your heart health and what you can and should be doing to keep your ticker ticking.

We want people to be confident in our abilities to serve. We want our patients to be more pro-active in their treatment and recovery. That's also an uphill task. Until the day when our patients are typically committed with their health as we are, there will be a need for us to be that excellent.

Rachel Lassel, RN, is an outcomes analyst at St. Mary's Medical Center in Blue Springs.