Christine Zirafi, MD, the cardiologist who guided the Code STEMI heart attack response times to record lows as deftly as she inserts a balloon in a blocked artery, has been recognized as one of Cleveland’s Health Care Heroes by Crain’s Cleveland Business.
Health Care Heroes awards recognize the distinguished medical professionals who touch the lives of those in need everyday. Dr. Zirafi, selected as a winner for Advancements in Health Care, will be honored along with other Health Care Heroes on May 18 at a luncheon at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Cleveland.
Heart attack response times for both Parma Hospital and its community EMS providers improved dramatically under the direction of Christine Zirafi, MD, medical director of Parma Community General Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. The hospital’s average annual door-to-balloon time – the amount of time it takes for a patient’s blocked coronary artery to be opened upon arrival at the hospital – was cut from 119 minutes in 2004 to 55 minutes in 2011.
The national goal set by the American College of Cardiology is 90 minutes.
“She’s had a patient in there in nine minutes; that was our quickest time,” said Steve Neylon, Cath Lab manager, in his nomination of Dr. Zirafi. “It seems like 14 minutes, 17 minutes, 20 minutes is the norm around here.”
Dr. Zirafi also was one of the interventional cardiologists who worked with hospital administration toward the creation of the Heart Center in 1999, adding high-risk catheterizations and cardiac surgery to the hospital’s offerings. She chairs the cardiac operations committee and co-chairs the Cardiac Services Quality Support Team, spearheading cooperation that has led to life-saving innovations that put the patient first.
Also recognized among the Health Care Heroes finalists were:
- Laura Matthews, manager of Parma Hospital’s comprehensive adult day care programming, as a Health Care Advocate. Her irrepressible enthusiasm, energy and keen understanding of the older adult population have led to the creation of multiple programs that help her participants “age in place” and remain living independently, out of long-term care facilities.
- Parma Hospital’s Vivo employee wellness program was a finalist as a Corporate Champion of Wellness. Parma Hospital opened an onsite fitness center, open around-the-clock to accommodate the 24/7 schedules of its staff, and offers a variety of wellness programs to keep its employees active and healthy.
About Parma Community General Hospital: In 2011, Parma Hospital celebrates its 50th year of providing excellent, personalized care. The Hospital was founded by the six communities of Parma, Parma Heights, North Royalton, Seven Hills, Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights to meet a growing demand for hospital beds in the rapidly growing southwestern suburbs of Cleveland. Parma Hospital now has a medical staff of 500 members in more than 30 specialties, as well as 2,000 employees and 400 volunteers. The Hospital has been recognized as one of the 20 Best Community Hospitals in the country and has received national acclaim for its orthopedics quality, its cardiovascular outcomes and patient safety. The Joint Commission has accredited the Hospital’s Stroke Center and its Joint Camp orthopedic program. Outpatient facilities are located in Broadview Heights, North Royalton and Brooklyn. Its third Community Express Care clinic, joining those already established in Olmsted Falls and Independence, opens this summer in Parma Heights.