Sycamore Shoals Hospital’s Chest Pain Center achieves accreditation just in time for the holidays


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. – Chest pain could mean a lot of things. Is it a heart attack or just heartburn? How do you know if it’s serious? During the holiday season, cases of chest pain tend to increase. Sometimes it’s just the result of overdoing it at Grandma’s buffet, but sometimes holiday chest pain is a sign of something deadly.

Sycamore Shoals Hospital (SSH) has an accredited Chest Pain Center that specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of chest pain. Few hospitals in the region have a Chest Pain Center that’s fully accredited by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC).

“Accreditation for this is very difficult to achieve,” said Dr. Shobha Hiremagalur, a cardiologist who serves Sycamore Shoals Hospital. “This shows that we are meeting these very intensive guidelines, our patient outcomes are very good and we are providing the best possible care. “

Among the many potential causes of chest pain are heartburn, swallowing disorders, gallbladder problems, sore muscles or injured ribs, problems with the lungs, high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries, panic attacks, shingles, and of course, heart attacks. SSH’s Chest Pain Center staff is specially trained to handle all of these, meeting strict national guidelines.

The SSH Chest Pain Center underwent an onsite review by the SCPC accreditation review specialists last month and received full accreditation. Recertification is required every three years.

“The accreditation is important in that it validates the continuity of care we provide for chest pain patients,” said Dwayne Taylor, CEO at Sycamore Shoals Hospital. “The team has been working toward this day for over a year and I’m excited that we were able to make this a reality for the community.”

The Chest Pain Center is located on the second floor of Sycamore Shoals Hospital.  The majority of chest pain patients are admitted through the hospital’s emergency department.

According to the SPCP, the Accredited Chest Pain Center at Sycamore Shoals has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and undergoing the onsite review. Key areas in which an Accredited Chest Pain Center must demonstrate expertise include the following:

  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring the competence and training of Accredited Chest Pain Center personnel
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack

“It’s not just about providing the best care for patients who come to the hospital, but it’s also what the hospital has done about teaching the community about chest pain,” Hiremagalur said. “First you need to be really good at what you do, and then you need to go outside the hospital walls and tell people about how to prevent or detect heart problems.”

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 people dying annually of heart disease. More than 5 million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. SCPC’s goal is to significantly reduce the mortality rate of these patients by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, reduce the time that it takes to receive treatment, and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.

The Accredited Chest Pain Center’s protocol-driven and systematic approach to patient management allows physicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack, when treatments are most effective, and to better monitor patients when it is not clear whether or not they are having a coronary event. Such observation helps ensure that patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.

About the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care

The Society of Cardiovascular Patient care (SCPC) is an international not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming cardiovascular care by assisting facilities in their effort to create communities of excellence that brings together quality, cost and patient satisfaction. As the only cross-specialty organization, SCPC provides the support needed for individual hospitals and 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.

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