In 1990, a group of doctors knew the surest way to improve our hospitals was to start an open heart program. Six years prior to this a Memorial Hospital administrator lured a cardiologist from St. Louis University to St. Clair County and the first cardiac catheterization heart procedure was performed. St. Elizabeth’s followed suit, followed by Anderson. A heart surgeon was acquired along with more cardiologists, anesthesiologists and technicians.
Some points to note: 31st anniversary of cardiac catheterization, 86,000 cardiac catheterizations performed, 21,000 coronary artery stents placed to avoid open heart surgery, 25th anniversary of open heart surgery, 8,400 hearts have been operated on; the original RNs are still actively nurse in the program, most were born, raised and live in Southwestern Illinois.
Recently, I suffered a heart attack while working at Sparta Community Hospital. A rapid diagnosis was made followed by excellent care by paramedics trained by Memorial and Anderson, and delivered to St. Elizabeth’s (Memorial would have been as good). I was rushed to the Cardiac Cath Lab where Dr. Atul Shah balloon dilated (opened) my blocked coronary artery in 21 minutes. He recommended surgery. Dr. Bill Daily performed three bypasses to my heart arteries using leg veins for the small tube grafts. The post-operative nursing care was superb — as good if not better, in my 50 years of observing in Savannah, St. Louis and Chicago (again, Memorial is comparable.)
Bottom line, no need to cross the river for excellent health care.
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Morris A. Kugler; M.D., Collinsville