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Casey Christie / The Californian

San Joaquin Community Hospital.

The American Heart Association has certified San Joaquin Community Hospital as a STEMI heart attack receiving center, the first hospital in Kern County and one of only two in the state with that accreditation.

To apply for Mission Lifeline accreditation, the hospital had to first be recognized by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care as an accredited chest pain center. It also had to demonstrate consistency in performance measures for heart attack patient care.

STEMI is an acronym for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, the most serious type of heart attack. During such attacks, the coronary artery is completely blocked off by a blood clot, causing significant portions of the heart muscle to die.

Bakersfield Memorial, San Joaquin Community and Bakersfield Heart hospitals have all applied to be STEMI receiving centers but San Joaquin is the first to win the accreditation.

A STEMI receiving center is a hospital equipped with a catheterization lab and approved by the county to take those patients.

If the system works as planned, patients in ambulances will be directed to a STEMI receiving center over other hospitals so they can get the right kind of treatment at a time when minutes count.