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Patients who desperately need care need to be able to access it—and quickly. So when the staff of the top cardiac care hospital in Hawaii—The Queen's Medical Center—insists on accepting cardiac transfer patients no matter what, it translates to saved lives and better outcomes. All it takes is one call to the Cardiac Transfer Center; Queen's staff does the rest. (The Cardiac Transfer Center can be reached at 808.547.4707, or toll-free at 1.877.762.4931 from the neighbor islands, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

The Cardiac Transfer Center was conceived by Queen's Heart two years ago to make transfers of cardiac patients quick and easy when a vital diagnostic test or treatment option is not available at another hospital. With the broadest range of cardiac services in the State, staff at Queen's Heart felt an obligation to meet the needs of cardiac patients. From September 6, 2005 to June 30, 2006, 446 patients were transferred. Transferred patients jumped to well over 700 in the next year.

Not a single patient has been refused. "The key is to say 'yes,'" says Tom Williams, RN, director of Cardiac Non-Invasive Services. Queen's Heart has taken the stance that there is no reason to refuse a patient—unless a transfer is unsafe for the patient. At the heart of the Cardiac Transfer Center is Garla Souza-Roy, RN, and Heather Texeira, RN, who take most of the calls. Three nurse practitioners, Williams and Cathy Young, RN, vice president of Patient Services, Cardiac Medicine and Geriatric Services, help cover.

The Cardiac Transfer Center does a transfer report, secures the services of a requested cardiologist (or finds one) and makes all other arrangements, including air and ground ambulances. The average transfer time is 3 to 4 hours. Souza-Roy and Texiera give a lot of credit to the nurses of Queen's Cardiac Comprehensive Care Unit and Pauahi 6 for their cooperation and flexibility. The Queen's Emergency Department and Bed Control staff also help make transfers a success.

Key to the process are Queen's cardiologists. "The doctors are a huge asset in answering calls at all hours of the night for patients who don't have a cardiologist," says Texiera. Says Souza-Roy: "Ultimately, things get done on behalf of patients, and they receive services they can't get elsewhere."

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