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May 11, 2015

Accredited Chest Pain CenterThe Society of Chest Pain Centers has reaffirmed Walla Walla General Hospital as an Accredited Chest Pain Center, one of only eight hospitals in Washington State to achieve this distinction. WWGH received its first seal of accreditation from the society in 2012.

“Receiving the chest pain center seal is an important distinction for the cardiology services at Walla Walla General Hospital,” says Tom Underhill, MD, chief medical officer at WWGH. “This accreditation certifies that the hospital and staff have established a track record of quality care for patients with heart attack symptoms, and highlights the importance of consistently providing care during the critical, early stages of a heart attack when treatments are most effective in helping patients recover more easily.”

The investment in an Accredited Chest Pain Center demonstrates Walla Walla General Hospital’s ongoing commitment to providing superior team-centered cardiac care. "Our accreditation illustrates that WWGH’s collaboration between our Emergency Center, cardiology team, hospitalists, nurses, and Walla Walla County EMS provides quick, quality heart care to our community when minutes matter most,” says Linda Givens, director of emergency and critical care services at WWGH. “This team ensures rapid assessment, diagnosis and high-quality care is delivered to each patient who comes to our hospital with chest pain.”

Chest pain is among the top symptoms of patients who visit the WWGH Emergency Center. The Chest Pain Center designation ensures that any patient who arrives at WWGH with chest pain, or other symptoms of a heart attack, can be confident that they are receiving care that meets or exceeds the highest national standards of care. Hospitals that receive SCPC accreditation have achieved an advanced level of expertise and continually emphasize the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs. Currently, WWGH is leading Washington State in exceeding the national door-to-balloon time goal of less than 90 minutes — 100% of the time.

To become and maintain its status as an Accredited Chest Pain Center, WWGH engaged in rigorous evaluation by SCPC for its ability to assess, diagnose, and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack. To Walla Walla Valley residents, this means that processes are in place that meet strict criteria aimed at:

  • Reducing the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment
  • Treating patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the integrity of the heart muscle can be preserved
  • Monitoring patients when it is not certain that they are having a heart attack to ensure that they are not sent home too quickly or needlessly admitted to the hospital

“We are proud to receive this recognition, demonstrating WWGH’s commitment to providing excellent emergency and cardiac care for residents of the Walla Walla Valley,” says Monty Knittel, WWGH president and CEO. “Maintaining our Chest Pain Center Accreditation is an important piece of our ongoing efforts to provide the best cardiac care in Walla Walla.”

Over the last few years WWGH has focused on improving the speed and quality of the Emergency Center, brought on a highly qualified interventional cardiologist, opening a cardiac catheterization lab, and started the area’s first STEMI program performing emergency angioplasties and stents.


About the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care

The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC) is an international not-for-profit organization whose mission is to transform cardiovascular care by assisting facilities in their effort to create communities of excellence that bring together quality, cost and patient satisfaction. As the only cross-specialty Society, SCPC provides the support needed for hospital systems to effectively bridge existing gaps in treatment by providing the tools, education and support necessary to successfully navigate the changing face of healthcare. For more information on SCPC, accreditation and certification opportunities, visit, or call toll free 1-877-271-4176.

March 4, 2015

My Heart Beats for Healthy Foods - Coloring ContestWalla Walla General Hospital’s “HeartWork” children’s coloring contest, which encourages youth to express their unique views on heart health in conjunction with February’s National American Heart Month, received 383 entries in its second year.

Eight winning submissions — four selected from each age category, ages 4–7 and 8–11 — will be displayed at Book & Game Company in downtown Walla Walla from Feb. 14–28, 2015. Winning entries included submissions from Curtis (1st place, age 6), Leila (2nd place, age 7), Chelsea (honorable mention, age 6), and Jack (honorable mention, age 6); Alyssa (1st place, age 11), Haley (2nd place, age 10), Sofia (honorable mention, age 10) and Marlee (honorable mention, age 9). Additional entries will be displayed in Creekside Café at WWGH through the end of the month.

“HeartWork allows children to use their imagination to express what it means to them to live a heart healthy,” says Olga Ochoa, MD, pediatrician at Adventist Health Medical Group. “Kids play an instrumental role in keeping their family and loved ones accountable for the health of their hearts. A coloring project is a great way to have that conversation.”

My Heart Beats for Health - Coloring Content WinnerParticipants were prompted with the question and statement on the coloring sheets, “How do you care for your heart? Draw it! Whether it’s a favorite sport, healthy food, or special person whose heart you care about, show us your HeartWork. Prizes will be awarded for most creative and inspiring masterpieces.”

Entry forms were made available through Adventist Health Medical Group – Pediatrics, Rogers Adventist School, Milton-Stateline Adventist School, Liberty Christian School, College Place School District, Walla Walla School District, as well as a downloadable entry form online at

“Any opportunity to educate our children and the Walla Walla community on how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, I consider a success for everyone involved,” says Ochoa.

February 10, 2015

Valentines Day is almost here and Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular wants to help you show your valentine that you care about their heart. We've created a fun set of eCards that can be sent at the click of a button. Along with a punny message, the cards remind your special someone to take a minute to use our heart assessment to check their heart health. 

This Heart Month we've been reminding our Northwest community that heart disease is the number 1 killer for both men and women in the U.S. Fortunately a healthier heart is within reach. Taking our Heart Age Assessment is a great step toward learning your risk factors and what you can do to improve your overall heart health.

Take some time today to complete the Heart Age Assessment and to share a Valentine with someone someone to remind them of the importance of a healthy heart. 

Send an E-Valentine.


January 28, 2015

Walla Walla General Hospital

Walla Walla is a small community but one that is fortunate to have healthcare specialties that are often only found in larger cities. As one woman discovered, the care she needed for a heart attack was right here in Walla Walla.

Mary Kay Pinnick recently shared her story with the Union Bulletin. She had a serious heart attack and it’s likely that if she had been taken further away to a bigger city she wouldn’t be alive today.

She says, “General’s cardiac cath lab has a very good reputation. Upon my inquiry, I was given a chart that showed the “median door to balloon time” among hospitals in Washington for 2013. Of 32 hospitals listed, General was at the top of the list, meaning it had the shortest response time. Wow, why would anyone want to make the 60-minute trip to Kadlec when they can get the best care right here at General?”

The staff at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular at Adventist Health have worked hard to bring best in class care to Walla Walla. Feedback like this from our patients makes all of the hard work feel worthwhile.

Learn more about Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular in Walla Walla.

Learn about Anabel Facemire, our newest cardiologist.

January 26, 2015

The latest issue of Health for Life from Adventist Health is now arriving in homes. This issue features an article on heart attacks and how women often experience different heart attack symptoms than men. Women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea or jaw pain.

This issue also features articles and information on:

  • Stroke care
  • Stroke risk quiz
  • Confronting Cancer: Coping advice for families
  • Free community classes and events

Download Health for Life (PDF)

January 22, 2015

One of the things that is so enjoyable about being a cardiologist is that we have so many tools to help lower risk. 

With Heart Month coming up, Dr. Katherine Strelich and Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular are working hard to get the word out about heart health. 

Yesterday Dr. Strelich appeared on AM Northwest to discuss heart health and the Heart Age Assessment offered online from Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular. This assessment helps identify your personal risk factors and suggests things you can do to help improve your overall heart health. This assessment will also provide you with your heart age, which is a comparison with your actual age. 

Watch the video below to learn valuable tips on heart health and how heart attack signs in a woman may be different than for a man. And don't forget to take the Heart Age Assessment.

January 8, 2015

Anabel Facemire, MD joins the cardiology team at Walla Walla General Hospital

Walla Walla General Hospital is delighted to welcome Anabel Facemire, MD, FACC, to our expert cardiology team. Dr. Facemire’s clinical interests are in preventative cardiology and women’s heart health. She is board certified in both cardiology and nuclear cardiology, and is fluent in Spanish.

Dr. Facemire aims to be an active partner in her patients’ journey to better health. “Through early detection, treatment and rehabilitation, I want to empower my patients to achieve abundant and long lasting health,” says Dr. Facemire. “I treat my patients using the latest evidence-based medicine and teach them the benefits of nutrition, exercise, stress management and spiritual support. By working side-by-side with my patients to prevent and treat heart disease — the #1 killer in this country — I believe we can continue to strive for a healthier community.”

She was born in Quito, Ecuador and lived in Argentina through her early years. Dr. Facemire decided to become a doctor when she was in second grade. The loving care of her pediatrician through a difficult illness inspired her to dream about becoming a compassionate physician.

Through early detection, treatment and rehabilitation, I want to empower my patients to achieve abundant and long lasting health.

Dr. Facemire received her medical degree from the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador. She then completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Graduate/Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, before completing fellowship training in Cardiovascular Disease from Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Cardiology Division in New York City.

Prior to coming to Walla Walla, Dr. Facemire has served as a general cardiologist and a director of cardiac rehabilitation. Most recently, she was a General Cardiologist with expertise in echocardiography, nuclear medicine, preventative cardiology, and women’s health at Upper Chesapeake Cardiology at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air, Md.

Anabel and her husband Fred have two children: Melody, a 9 year-old daughter; and Ethan, a 6 year-old son. She has participated in sprint triathlons for the last five years and enjoys music, the outdoors and healthy dining.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Facemire, call 509-527-8154.

December 26, 2014

It takes a team to ensure that our patients have the best care possible. Each day our team, including surgeons, PAs, nurses and physical therapists, work together to make sure that we're offering coordinated care to patients. This partnership helps us offer quality that helps get our patients back to their lives as quickly as possible.

To learn more about the coordinated care that you can expect to receive at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular, read Collaborative Health Care as Part of the Healing Process.

December 15, 2014

Walla Walla General Hospital has received the Mission: Lifeline® Bronze Referring Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks.

“We are proud to be recognized for our dedication and achievements in providing team-centered cardiac care to our community,” said Monty Knittel, WWGH President and CEO. “Receiving the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline award demonstrates our continued commitment of consistently providing high-quality care for our patients.”

Each year in the United States, approximately 250,000 people suffer a STEMI, or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to immediately restore blood flow, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.

The Mission: Lifeline program encourages the improvement of response times for those who suffer from a STEMI receive prompt, appropriate treatment. The program’s goal is to streamline systems of care to quickly get heart attack patients from the first 9-1-1 call to hospital treatment.

WWGH earned the award by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for promptly diagnosing STEMI patients and transferring them to hospitals that provide artery-opening procedures as needed. Eligible hospitals must adhere to these measures at a set level for a designated period of time to receive the awards.


About Mission: Lifeline

The American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program helps hospitals and emergency medical services develop systems of care that follow proven standards and procedures for STEMI patients. The program works by mobilizing teams across the continuum of care to implement American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology clinical treatment guidelines.  For more information, visit and

October 20, 2014

NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum award recognizes high standards

Portland, OR, October 20, 2014Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular has received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2014. Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular is one of only 256 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.

The award recognizes Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients and signifies that Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular has reached an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care as outlined by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical guidelines and recommendations.

American College of Cardiology recognitionTo receive the ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award, Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular consistently followed the treatment guidelines in the ACTION Registry–GWTG Premier for eight consecutive quarters and met a performance standard of 90 percent for specific performance measures. Full participation in the registry engages hospitals in a robust quality improvement process using data to drive improvements in adherence to guideline recommendations and overall quality of care provided to heart attack patients.

“The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association commend Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular for its success in implementing standards of care and protocols. The full implementation of acute and secondary prevention guideline-recommended therapy is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of heart attack patients,” said James Jollis, MD, FACC, ACTION Registry-GWTG Chair and Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Duke University Hospital. 

The Center for Disease Control estimates that over 700,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling and cardiac rehabilitation, among others.

“This award is a proud achievement for Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular. It reflects the hard work and dedication of the staff who care for some of our most seriously ill patients and their families,” said James Pelch, executive director of cardiovascular services. “The implementation of these guidelines requires successful coordination of the cardiovascular team and emergency personnel and is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of heart attack patients.”

ACTION Registry–GWTG is a partnership between the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association with partnering support from the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. ACTION Registry-GWTG empowers health care provider teams to consistently treat heart attack patients according to the most current, science-based guidelines and establishes a national standard for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for patients with coronary artery disease, specifically high-risk heart attack patients.

The American College of Cardiology is a 47,000-member medical society that serves as the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care. It also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit

More on quality at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular.