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Jessica Zègre-Hemsey Joins Critical Interprofessional Cardiovascular Care Committee

UNC Health Care recognized assistant professor Jessica Zègre-Hemsey’s emerging leadership in cardiovascular care by inviting her to join their interprofessional committee overseeing acute coronary syndrome care.

The committee, led by Dr. Prashant Kaul, MD, of the UNC Heart and Vascular Center, meets to evaluate and improve care procedures for patients who suffer from heart attacks. Dr. Zègre-Hemsey, PhD, RN will join representatives from emergency medical services, the Chest Pain Center, and the UNC Health Care emergency department (ED) on the committee.

“Dr. Kaul invited me to participate because my research, which is aimed at improving the early diagnosis of patients with acute coronary syndrome, fits nicely within their scope and aim,” said Dr. Zègre-Hemsey. “It is important for ED clinicians to be able to have quick, non-invasive, and reliable technologies to generate timely diagnoses. Nurses are in an important position because they are responsible in performing triage and risk stratification for all patients entering the ED.”

Through her research, Dr. Zègre-Hemsey has examined many aspects of cardiac emergency care. In one of her most recent studies with colleagues at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), she was part of a team that investigated the characteristics of patients who have false arrhythmia alarms in intensive care units. In the ICU, changes to patients’ physiological status can be detected by bedside monitors capable of measuring heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing.  When there is a drastic change in heart rhythm, the device sounds an alarm. Unfortunately, the alarm can also be triggered by malfunctions or low voltage signals, resulting in false alarms. If the rate of false alarms is high, staff don’t respond to the warnings as urgently as they should, potentially leading to detrimental outcomes for patients. Understanding common characteristics of patients who have false alarms could help medical professionals make better decisions while they monitor their patients’ heart health. For one of her next studies, she plans to assess the utilization of pre-hospital electrocardiograms (monitoring of the heart’s electrical activity) for patients activating “911” for heart attack symptoms in North Carolina. Her proposal for the study was recently funded by an Research Support Center Spark Grant. Her co-investigators are Drs. Jane Brice and Tony Fernandez.

Dr. Zègre-Hemsey presented her emerging program of research to staff nurses in an invited talk at the UNC Medical Center Nursing and Quality Conference. She will present newer data at the upcoming American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago. She has received a Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing Early Career Research Travel Stipend to support her travel to the meeting.