Essentia Health offers care for severest type of heart attack

A ribbon-cutting and open house will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, to celebrate Essentia Health's offering care for the most severe type of heart attack.

Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd entrance
Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo

BRAINERD — Essentia Health will begin offering 24/7 STEMI care at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

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 24/7 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, and who are capable of rapidly opening a blockage and restoring blood flow to the heart muscle, Essentia Health reported.

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“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, in a news release.

A ribbon-cutting and open house will be 4-5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, to celebrate this increase in services.


About 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, according to Essentia Health.

“Time is the most important factor when treating a STEMI patient. Having this capability available at all times … will allow us to open their blocked arteries as expeditiously as possible … which will improve cardiovascular mortality and overall cardiovascular outcomes for those patients,” Curran stated.

A second catheterization laboratory 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.

“Adding this service underscores Essentia’s commitment to the area and our dedication to saving lives and keeping people healthy,” Curran stated.

The Marilyn Covey Heart and Vascular Center was made possible by financial donations from the center’s namesake. A Minnesota native, Covey made several contributions to Essentia’s heart and vascular care program.

“Giving back to her community was very important to my mother; she wanted to see the Brainerd community grow,” Lisa, Covey’s daughter, stated in the release. “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, according to Essentia Health, and the nearest STEMI center to Brainerd was in St. Cloud, about 65 miles away.

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