New Heart Center at St. Catherine’s
opens its doors
Having the ability to perform the procedure in-house saves patients from having to travel to the Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita -- which partners with the new Heart Center at St. Catherine’s -- for the procedure.
More importantly, the procedure can stabilize a patient who requires airlift to Wichita for emergency surgery.
Vines said that the process has taken some of the stress out of one of the most traumatic events one can experience.
“Our process before the center opened, was that you came in the emergency room at 2 or 3 a.m. with signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and we’d have to air-lift you to Wichita,” explained Vines. “You’re having a family member at 2 or 3 a.m. driving to Wichita. The last thing they’re thinking about is driving. They’re thinking, My husband, wife, father or mother is being flown to Wichita. Will they be alive when I get there? You’re not in the state of mind to make that drive.
“Will we still have patients that will have to go to the Kansas Heart Hospital?” Vines asked. “Yes. We don’t do bypass surgery. But it’s a whole lot better to take that edge off when they come in the emergency room. We can go in and stent it, or do something to stabilize them before they have to go. We can do something to ease everyone’s state of mind. We do whatever we have to do to stabilize that patient.”
Besides Vines and the cardiologists, staff of the heart center includes a cardiology clinic coordinator, two registered nurses – both with emergency room backgrounds -- and two radiation therapists.
Doug Landgraf, one of the two registered nurses serving at the heart center, has worked for St. Catherine “since the 80s.” A former paramedic, he transferred to the heart center when it opened. He said that patients may have to wait three hours for air transport to Wichita. “Now, we can get in there and catch the process early. It makes a big difference.”
Vines is also a respiratory therapist, and she is director of the center’s sleep lab, which treats patients who may suffer from sleep apnea.
“There are more than 80 different types of sleep disorders,” she explained. “More and more, sleep apnea is being attributed to congestive heart failure. Two-thirds of the patients with pace-makers are diagnosed with sleep apnea.”
She explained that “if you control the sleep apnea so you can get a better quality of sleep, you can control the medications you’re on.
“If you’re hypertensive and on two or three different medications – if you have persistent hypertension that’s really not controlled -- a lot of times you’re an undiagnosed sleep apnea patient. So, we bring them into the sleep lab. We’ll get the sleep apnea taken care of, and all of the sudden their medication for their blood pressure starts taking care of that blood pressure, and instead of two or three medications, you’re only on one.”
Vine said that the new Heart Center services 19 to 20 counties.
“It’s a great perk to southwest Kansas,” she said.