top of page

Our Mission and Vision: 

In every corner of our state, from the bustling cities to the quiet rural areas, we envision a future where every Virginian has access to the highest quality cardiovascular care. A future where care is not just a service but a right that is patient-centered and equitable for all, regardless of where they live or their background.


Our Mission

"To continuously improve cardiovascular systems of care in Virginia through education and data-driven collaboration with healthcare professionals and organizations, community partners, and patients."


Our mission is to be the driving force behind the continuous improvement of cardiovascular systems of care across Virginia. We are committed to:

  • Educating  healthcare professionals, patients, and communities about the best practices in heart health.

  • Collaborating with a broad network of healthcare providers, organizations, community partners, and patients to share knowledge and resources.

  • Improving the quality and accessibility of cardiovascular care through data-driven strategies and innovative solutions.

Our Vision: 

At VHAC, we dream of a Virginia where geography and socio-economic status do not determine the quality of cardiovascular care one receives. Our vision is clear: "All Virginians should have access to high-quality, patient-centered, equitable cardiovascular care." This vision guides our actions, our strategies, and our collaborations. It is a promise to our communities that we will strive tirelessly to ensure every heart in Virginia is cared for with the highest standards of excellence and equity.



Working to improve systems of care for the early recognition and treatment of all Virginia residents having heart attacks, the Virginia Heart Attack Coalition is helping to implement the American Heart Association’s community-based national initiative Mission: Lifeline, designed to improve the health care system’s readiness and response to ST-Elevation Heart Attack (STEMI) patients.


Peter O’Brien, MD -  Centra Health

Dr. O’Brien received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University. He attended the University of Virginia for Medical school, Internship, and Residency training. Dr. O’Brien performed his Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology fellowships at Wake Forest University. Board Certified in Cardiovascular Disease, Interventional Cardiology, Vascular and Endovascular Medicine, his interests include peripheral artery disease, coronary and peripheral arterial intervention, and the treatment of acute myocardial infarction. Dr. O’Brien served on the American Heart Association’s National Guideline Writing Committee for Systems of Care Development for Myocardial Infarction and on the American College of Cardiology’s Door to Balloon (D2B) initiative. He was one of the regional leads and authors of Duke University and the AHA’s Mission:Lifeline STEMI Accelerator-2 project. He is the Director of the Acute MI Program at Centra and is a founding member and current Co-chairman of the Virginia Heart Attack Coalition.

Dr. O’Brien’s other passion is the treatment of cardiovascular disease in the Developing World. As an active volunteer with the nongovernmental organization Madaktari Africa, Dr. O’Brien led the team that performed the first cardiac catheterization in the history of Tanzania and the first PCI at a Tanzanian public hospital. As the current Medical Director of Madaktari, he continues work to advance cardiovascular education and care in that region.


Michael C. Kontos, MD - VCU Medical Center

Dr. Kontos is an associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center (formerly Medical College of Virginia) in Richmond, VA and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Internal Medicine/Cardiology, Emergency Medicine and Radiology. He received his MD degree in 1988, and completed residency and his Cardiology training, including an additional year in echocardiography, at the Medical College of Virginia. His primary research interests are the identification and treatment of patients with acute coronary syndromes, with a focus on the applications of imaging, including echocardiography myocardial perfusion imaging, and cardiac biomarkers for identification and risk stratification. A fellow of the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, Dr. Kontos serves as a reviewer for JAMA, Circulation, Journal of the American College of CardiologyAnnals of Emergency MedicineAmerican Journal of CardiologyAmerican Heart Journal, as well as other journals. He has served as site investigator on a number of multicenter studies investigating treatment in acute myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndrome. He speaks frequently in academic and professional venues. Dr. Kontos has contributed over 100 articles and 100 abstracts for publications in journals that include Circulation, Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Annals of Emergency Medicine. He is editor of the Biomarker community on the American College of Cardiology’s web site. He is currently the Medical Director of the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, as well as Co-Director of the Stress Laboratory and Co-Director of the Chest Pain Center.

David-Burt-2012 D.jpg

David R. Burt, MD (Emeritus) - UVA Emergency Medicine

Dr. David R. Burt practices Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and is current director of the UVA Chest Pain Center and the UVA-Guatemala Initiative. He is actively involved in STEMI (ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) outreach & education at local, state and national levels and focuses on the application of system engineering principles to reduce reperfusion times in STEMI. He is the creator of Project UPSTART, a free quality improvement program focused on helping hospitals and systems of care improve care for STEMI patients and also conducts “STEMI BootCamp” seminars (based on these same concepts) across the country. Recently he has been involved in applying these same principals to systems of care for acute stroke and post-arrest hypothermia care at local and national levels.

Prior to working at UVA, Dr. Burt was Associate Director of Emergency and Cardiovascular Medicine for Spectrum Health Systems in Grand Rapids Michigan and also worked at a regional non-PCI center in Fremont, Michigan. A native of Devils Lake, North Dakota, Dr. Burt attended medical school at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He then practiced as a volunteer physician for one year in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan. This was followed by emergency medicine residency in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he served as chief resident and worked as a flight physician for AeroMed Flight Services. This was followed by a Cardiovascular Emergencies fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Burt is a former member of both the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline ECC Taskforce and Advisory Working Group. He is a founding member of the Virginia Heart Attack Coalition and is a member of the Virginia Stroke Task Force. He also serves on the board of the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care and is chair of the Society’s education committee and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.

In addition to his interest in cardiovascular emergencies such as heart attack and stroke, Dr. Burt is the director of the UVA-Guatemala Initiative, a group of faculty and students at the University of Virginia devoted to the development of mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships between UVA and the people and communities of Guatemala. Working within the UVA-GI, Dr. Burt and others have developed a series of interdisciplinary programs with a variety of partners in Guatemala each focused on beneficial exchange for all stakeholders. These programs include opportunities for undergraduates, residents, medical students, faculty and staff.



 The Virginia Cardiac Services Quality Initiative (VCSQI) is a non-profit consortium of cardiology and cardiac surgery practices across the Commonwealth.  VCSQI's mission is to transform cardiovascular care to improve patient experience and value.  Via a robust clinical database spanning ACC and STS databases, reports are circulated to member programs to track performance and benchmark against peers.  Multidisciplinary panels of heart team members coordinate data-driven quality improvement initiatives through open discussion and identification of top performers.  Consensus best practice protocols are then agreed upon and implemented.  VCSQI also links its quality data with financial claims to estimate cost savings of clinical improvement.  Other efforts include angiogram reviews of elective PCI cases to assess appropriateness of care, as well as establishment of transcatheter valve initiatives.  With a growing statewide Heart Team, VCSQI continues to help its members improve cardiac patients' outcomes in many evolving areas. 


If you would like to participate, please contact

bottom of page