At the first signs of chest pain, time is critical. It can be the difference between
life and death for a person having a heart attack.
Shands Jacksonville’s Chest Pain Center is a state-of-the-art facility staffed with
experts who specialize in providing a higher level of care to patients with heart
The center offers a comprehensive model of care that includes standardized diagnostic
and treatment programs and monitoring. In addition to medical care provided at UF&Shands
Jacksonville, the center’s outreach includes educational programs for children and
adults and training for paramedics throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.
The Chest Pain Center was formed in January 2011, and it has since been accredited
by the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), an international not-for-profit organization
focused on transforming cardiovascular care.
The center is located in the hospital’s Clinical Decision Unit inside the Emergency
Department. The 14-bed space is fully staffed and open 24 hours a day, seven days
UF&Shands Jacksonville offers a streamlined check-in process to help patients
with signs of chest pain see a physician and get the appropriate treatment faster.
For those patients brought in by ambulance, hospital staff offer training for EMS
officials so they can read electrocardiograms in the field. That enables the hospital
to call in its necessary personnel once the paramedics notify the hospital of the
patient’s EKG results instead of waiting until the patient arrives in the emergency
Between the streamlined process, and work done in the field by paramedics who are
in close contact with doctors in the hospital, the time it takes to open up the
artery continues to decrease. The national benchmark is 90 minutes between when
a patient enters the emergency department to when the artery is opened, known as
At UF&Shands Jacksonville, the average time is less than one hour, which helps
preserve the integrity of the heart muscle. In some cases, arteries are open in
less than 30 minutes.
During an average length of stay of 15 hours, patients are monitored and provided
evidence-based evaluations to determine the cause of their chest pains. Chest pain
can be caused by a variety of things, including heart damage, gastrointestinal problems,
stress and pulmonary distress.
Even if patients do not have heart damage, the care offered at Shands Jacksonville
continues after they are discharged. Patients are offered an appointment at dedicated
cardiology clinic the Friday after they leave the hospital if they don’t have a
primary care doctor.