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Piedmont Atlanta First Hospital in U.S. to Earn Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) Program Certification

Atlanta (August 20, 2020) – Piedmont Atlanta Hospital’s Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) program is the first in the nation to earn ECLS Program Certification from DNV GL Healthcare.

ECLS is also referred to as ECMO – Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It involves the use of a cardiopulmonary bypass circuit and machine for temporary life support. It allows patients with potentially reversible cardiac or respiratory failure time to rest and heal by taking over the work of the heart and lungs. Piedmont Atlanta refers to its program as ECMO.

“We are proud of the ECMO program we’ve built at Piedmont Atlanta and are honored to be the first program in the nation to be certified by DNV GL Healthcare,” said Peter Barrett, M.D., Medical Director for the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the ECMO Program at Piedmont Atlanta. “This certification demonstrates that the services we offer our patients not only meet, but exceed, established standards of care.”

Piedmont Atlanta’s ECMO program focuses on the most critical patients in the cardiac intensive care unit. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team, which includes highly trained physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs), cardiac and vascular surgeons, cardiovascular intensive care unit nurses, perfusionists (medical technologists trained on ECMO equipment), respiratory therapists, physical therapists and an ECMO coordinator to manage day-to-day operations. The nurse-to-patient ratio for ECMO patients at Piedmont Atlanta is 1-to-1, meaning each patient has a nurse solely dedicated to his or her care while he or she is on ECMO.

“Every member of the ECMO team shares a common goal: to provide the best possible care to each and every patient,” said Julie Webster, Director of Advanced Heart Failure at Piedmont Atlanta. “Program certification challenges us to keep working harder and to keep striving for excellence and world class innovation in order to offer high quality, patient-centered care when it’s needed most.”

Before awarding certification, DNV GL Healthcare audited the Piedmont Atlanta ECMO program’s quality management system, program and staff management, infection prevention and control, service delivery and the program’s multidisciplinary approach to patient care. Programs are certified for a three-year period, subject to an annual review to make sure the program remains compliant.

This certification is the latest in a list of honors earned by Piedmont Atlanta’s ECMO program. In 2016, it was the first adult program in the state of Georgia to be recognized as a Gold Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) – a designation that was renewed in 2020. In 2018, Piedmont Atlanta became the first in the Southeast to implement an ECMO transfer team, allowing them to help more patients who need this specialized care.

“Being the first hospital in the United States to earn ECLS Program certification from DNV GL Healthcare is incredibly rewarding, but it feels particularly meaningful now as Piedmont is celebrating its 115th anniversary and the opening of the Marcus Tower at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital,” said Patrick Battey, M.D., CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “We are proud of our ECMO team, and of all of the Piedmont Atlanta employees who strive to live the Piedmont Promise of making a positive difference in every life they touch.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Piedmont has achieved excellent results through its use of ECMO, with 18 of 22 patients with severe illness recovering. In addition, Piedmont is participating in a clinical trial – named ECMOCARD – that is studying the use of ECMO on patients who have developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) as a result of COVID-19.

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