Valley View Heart & Vascular Center earns national recognition |

Valley View Heart & Vascular Center earns national recognition

Image courtesy of Valley View Hospital
Dr. Frank Laws, electrophysiologist and interventional cardiologist at Valley View’s Heart & Vascular Center.
Valley View Hospital

Valley View recently received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain  ̶ MI Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2020. 

NCDR stands for the National Cardiovascular Data Registry. There are eight registries for hospitals and two for outpatient services.

“The Heart and Vascular Center happens to be the only program at Valley View that publicly reports its data,” said Dr. Frank Laws, who built the program starting back in 2005.

MI stands for myocardial infarction, which most of us know as a heart attack.

Valley View is one of 124 hospitals nationwide and seven in Colorado to receive the honor.

There were 61 hospitals in the gold category, with one from Colorado; and 140 in the highest platinum category, with 12 from Colorado, including St. Mary’s in Grand Junction, the only other Colorado hospital not from the Front Range to receive an award.

“We benchmark ourselves with everyone else in the country,” Laws said. “Most of these hospitals are much larger than Valley View. We’re boxing above our weight class. … You’re not going to find another 78-bed hospital in the country that has the type of expertise and foundational resources that we have.”

Laws said the Heart and Vascular Center has been working toward improving data and improving quality of care.

“This award is the culmination of that effort over the course of time,” he said.

Laws said one of the major metrics in evaluating a heart program is “door-to-balloon time,” the time it takes to inflate a balloon in a blocked artery from when the patient enters the hospital. He said the national standard is less than 90 minutes, while Valley View averages 45 minutes.

That’s partially because Valley View can mobilize its catheterization lab quickly.

“We average 25 minutes for the entire cath lab to be activated. That’s an incredible metric,” Laws said. “I think we have one of the better cath labs you’re going to find anywhere in the state.”

Laws said the Heart and Vascular Center has had quarters where it achieved the standard of the gold or platinum level, but the award is based on a full year.

“We have to continue doing what we’re doing well on a more consistent basis” to move up an award category, he said.

Valley View is somewhat hampered by things that are largely out of its control, though Laws said the American College of Cardiology doesn’t look at impediments, it looks at results.

So Laws said staff needs to find a way to cope with winter conditions. 

“Sometimes rural conditions and weather conditions slow down transfer of patients, but we’re working on various protocols that will allow us to do even better as we proceed,” he said.

Laws, who was born and raised on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, was contracted by Valley View in 2005 to help design the cath lab. It opened shortly after the heliport opened in January 2007, and the first patient to receive a stent was then-Rifle-mayor Keith Lambert in February.

Until 2009 the lab was open 21 days a month, Laws said.

“The program took off when we started offering 24/7 care,” he said.

Laws said the Heart and Vascular Center has about 40 employees, 15-20 of whom work in the cath lab. That’s up from six total at the start, Laws said, and now includes four interventional cardiologists working on a rotating basis.

Laws was only too eager to share credit for the silver performance achievement award.

“I think a lot of it comes down to the physicians we have,” he said.

He also appreciates the philanthropic efforts of Glenwood’s residents.

“The community itself has contributed directly and indirectly to our success,” he said.

The award represents not just treatments and outcomes but efforts to educate residents about how to respond in the event of a heart attack.

“This award not only recognizes the achievement of the hospital but it recognizes our ability to influence patients’ behavior in the community, which also helps to improve the outcome,” Laws said.

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