Patient Success Stories

Heart Attack Patient’s Life Saved due to Receiving Cardiac Procedure in 18–minutes Upon Arrival to Silver Cross Hospital

Two weeks prior to having a massive heart attack, Frankfort resident Darrell Burris was walking through a hardware store and began to have chest pains. A couple days later when he was driving to work, he felt a tightening in his chest. Since the pain went away in 5 minutes, he dismissed the episodes as anxiety attacks due to stress. Then during his fourth episode of chest pain within two weeks, the pain didn’t go away – in fact it worsened. At this point, Burris went to the Emergency Room at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. Within 18-minutes of arriving to Silver Cross, Burris was in the Cardiac Cath Lab where Dr. Muawia Martini performed a coronary angioplasty inserting two stents into one of his coronary arteries, which was 99% blocked.

Pictured is Muawia Martini, M.D., with Frankfort resident Darrell Burris, who had a heart attack and received a coronary angioplasty in 18- minutes upon arriving to Silver Cross Hospital.

Silver Cross Hospital has saved lives by significantly improving the time heart attack patients receive treatment from arrival to the Emergency Room to entering the Cardiac Cath Lab. Within the past year, Silver Cross’ Code STEMI team has averaged angioplasty reperfusion times of under 50 minutes, better than the national standard by over 30 minutes.

“The Code Stemi team at Silver Cross continues to enhance their process by engaging the entire care team from the physicians, nurses, Cardiac Cath Lab staff to EMS and paramedics,” said Dr. Martini, cardiologist with Heartland Cardiovascular Center. “Because of this commitment to excellence, Darrell’s heart attack was treated swiftly and efficiently enabling his heart to be fixed in a record 18 minutes from his arrival in the ambulance.”

“Once I arrived at Silver Cross, the staff quickly attended to my every need,” said 61-year-old Burris. “I am so thankful to Dr. Martini and the entire staff at Silver Cross Hospital whose expertise and quick reaction saved my life. Then after my procedure, Dr. Martini sat with me to develop a plan to keep my heart healthy in the future.”

STEMI is an abbreviation for ST-elevation myocardial infarction, a severe heart attack caused by a prolonged period of blocked blood supply that affects a large portion of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, almost 400,000 people suffer from a STEMI heart attack each year. Since this type of heart attack is considered to be the most deadly, immediate treatment is critical. The old saying - Time Is Muscle - is even more vital in these instances.

“Our Code STEMI team is responsible for improving the treatment time for our heart attack patients,” said Marybeth Antone, Administrative Director, Surgical Services & Cardiology at Silver Cross. “Research shows that a patient’s chance of dying increases 30% to 60% if they don’t receive care within 90 minutes or less. In order to provide the highest quality of care to our patients, we re-evaluated our system and developed a consistent, standard protocol that streamlined the process for our staff.”

The first step in improving patient treatment was to assemble a multi-disciplinary team comprised of hospital interventional cardiologists and emergency medicine physicians, Cardiac Cath Lab staff, emergency medicine nurses and paramedics from Joliet, Lockport and New Lenox.

As a result of this group’s teamwork, a Code STEMI protocol was developed and a procedural kit was created. The kit includes medications and a checklist of detailed, step-by-step procedures for the staff to easily follow while caring for a heart attack patient.

“The Code STEMI protocol has really mobilized our team,” says Mary Brenczewski, R.N., Administrative Director of Emergency Services & Nursing Practice at Silver Cross Hospital. “Everyone knows their role, and everyone does it quickly and proficiently.”

In addition, Silver Cross staff visited area EMS paramedic departments and conducted education and training programs on the hospital’s Code STEMI process. Since paramedics were able to electronically transmit results from 12-lead electrocardiograms during patient transport, physicians were able to determine if a patient was experiencing a STEMI and activate the protocol before the patient’s arrival in the Emergency Department.

“The success of our program would not be possible if it weren’t for the team collaboration and outstanding care given by area paramedics, as well as our emergency room physicians and nurses. They are all an integral part of Silver Cross’ Code STEMI team,” said Brenczewski.

Once a STEMI is determined, an alert system known as a Code STEMI is activated. Emergency Department staff and physicians quickly evaluate the patient and get him or her to the Cardiac Cath Lab as soon as possible, which is where the life-saving procedure to open the blocked artery takes place, known as coronary angioplasty.

The patient's minute-by-minute movement through the treatment process is documented, keeping details of time segments to help the team pinpoint areas for improvement at monthly meetings where each case is reviewed.

Once the coronary angioplasty is completed in the Cardiac Cath Lab, Silver Cross provides comprehensive follow-up care with 24/7 physician monitoring. Also the hospital keeps the patient's primary care physician informed about the patient's treatment and any follow-up care that is required.

“We're a full-service program for cardiac care,” says Antone. “We have seen tremendous growth over the last few years in our ability to treat cardiac conditions.”

Cardiac Services at Silver Cross

Silver Cross Hospital brings together advanced technology and the finest medical professionals to create an innovative and efficient approach to heart care. From prevention programs to aftercare, Silver Cross provides patients with everything they need to maintain a healthy heart. Cardiac patients receive expert education, diagnosis, treatment, professional consultation, and rehabilitative care. From state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization suites to accredited programs for Echocardiography and Cardiac Rehab, Silver Cross offers a wide range of comprehensive services to expertly diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate heart disease. For a referral to a cardiologist on staff at Silver Cross, visit

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.