Toasting to success

A gala fundraiser for Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center's Chest Pain Center was topped off with a surprise announcement on Sunday that the program would receive accreditation as the first of its kind in Los Angeles County.

The 23rd annual "Evening of Wine and Roses — A Tuscan Affair" raised funds for the center with an evening of Italian wine and gourmet cuisine. More than 750 people attended the festivities held outdoors on the hospital grounds.

The evening began with a reception and silent auction with lavish hors d'oeuvres and specialty libations created by celebrity mixologist Jacopo Falleni. A four-course meal prepared by four top chefs from area restaurants and a live auction capped off the gala.

The Chest Pain Center in the hospital's emergency room was opened a year ago after more than five years of planning, said Dr. Santo Polito, medical director of cardiovascular services.

"The fundraiser tonight is so we can grow," he said.

When a patient is brought into the emergency room with chest pain, they are taken to the Chest Pain Center, where within 20 minutes it can be determined whether a patient is suffering from a heart attack, Polito said.

"We do blood testing at the bedside and if it's a heart attack, we can take the patient to the catheterization lab and perform an angioplasty and stint — and you're cured," he said. "But if it's not a heart attack, we observe the patient up to eight hours or maybe 12, conduct further testing and then send you home."

The upside of the process is that it assures a patient they did not have a heart attack, he said.

On Thursday, the center will undergo a reviewing process to earn accreditation by the National Assn. of Chest Pain Centers.

By next year, through fundraising events, Polito hopes to increase the two monitoring stations to six.

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death among Americans, guests heard during a slide presentation at the dinner. Rapid assessment is crucial in ruling out heart issues and has become what the hospital uses as a mantra — Every Minute Matters.

Ana Castillo, a registered nurse in the colorectal surgery institute at Glendale Memorial, found herself at the center just a few months after the center opened.

"I was working in the E.R. and started experiencing shortness of breath and tightening of the chest," she said. "They made me feel comfortable. I'm a nurse, but it's different when you become the patient. They reassured me within minutes, not hours, that I wasn't having a heart attack."

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