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Ward King Ward suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. He experienced mild chest discomfort and felt “a bit strange” but certainly didn’t believe he was about to have a myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack.


ATLANTA, TX -- Queen City residents Ward King and his wife, Glenda, were enjoying coffee and a visit with their friends, Dot and Dave Eaton, when Ward suddenly broke out in a cold sweat. He experienced mild chest discomfort and felt “a bit strange” but certainly didn’t believe he was about to have a myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. After all, he declared he wasn’t suffering the “normal” symptoms of a heart attack.

Fortunately, his wife insisted they go to CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta after calling the Emergency Department, where they were advised that Ward needed to be seen as soon as possible. At the hospital, a stat EKG indicated Ward was in the process of having a heart attack. Rapid and thorough assessment, followed by life-saving stabilization by Dr. Bo Price and the Atlanta ER team, prepared Ward for quick transport to CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System in Texarkana, where he went directly to the Cardiac Cath Lab for angioplasty, receiving a stent to keep his blocked artery open.

Ward wasn’t aware at the time of his visit CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta had earned full Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). But he did know he made a life-saving decision. “The Atlanta emergency team was great – everybody was in sync,” he said. “I have the highest respect for them as well as the ER team and cardiology folks at CHRISTUS St. Michael in Texarkana.” 

After a brief two-day stay in the hospital, Ward returned to work at Texarkana, TX Independent School District, where he is a bus mechanic. He reports today there was minor damage to his heart and he has been symptom-free since his procedure.

Ward is only one of approximately 715,000 Americans who suffered a heart attack last year. At least 60 patients report to CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta with symptoms of a heart attack or chest pain each month, and like Ward, Cass County area residents can be assured their hospital is positioned to efficiently manage their chest pain/heart issues as an Accredited Chest Pain Center (CPC). 

According to the American College of Cardiology, the Chest Pain Center Accreditation process ensures that hospitals meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and undergo a comprehensive onsite review by a team of accreditation review specialists. “A CPC hospital has achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who present with symptoms of a heart attack,” said Thomas McKinney, MHA, CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta Administrator. “We emphasize the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs to provide more efficient and effective evaluation as well as more appropriate and rapid treatment of patients with chest pain and other heart attack symptoms.”

According to Nicole Fant, MSN, RN, SCRN, RN Program Manager, by achieving ACC’s Chest Pain Center Accreditation status, CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta demonstrates expertise in the following areas:

  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients at 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
  • Constructing 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.

“Along with the ACC, our goal is to significantly enhance the outcomes of patients with chest pain and heart-attack symptoms and decrease the mortality rates,” Fant explained. “We want to help the public to recognize and react quickly to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack to reduce the time it takes to receive treatment. In Mr. King’s situation, his wife’s insistence that he come to the hospital made a drastic difference in his outcome and likely saved his life.”

The American Heart Association contends knowing the risk factors and symptoms of a heart attack can save lives. Symptoms include but are not limited to pain that spreads from the shoulders, neck or arms; pressure, uncomfortable “fullness” in the chest, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and indigestion. The Heart Association recommends regularly scheduled appointments with your physician to keep a check on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart function and advice on how to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. To learn more about heart disease, go to