GHCH Expands Cardiology Services in Grays Harbor

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Cardiology Xray Machine
A peek inside the catheterization lab shows the C arm x-ray machine used in cardiac catheterization. This is a minimally-invasive procedure used to identify structural or electrical abnormalities within the heart. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Every 34 seconds, someone in the United States experiences a heart attack. In addition, the American Heart Association estimates that more than 350,000 people suffer an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest each year. For patients with cardiac emergencies, timely care is critical for survival. A Community Needs Assessment of Grays Harbor County reported higher than average incidents of risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The combination of high risk and limited local access to cardiac care presented a dangerous combination. In response, Grays Harbor Community Hospital (GHCH) has joined forces with CardioSolution out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Cardiology Staff
Staff from GHCH and CardioSolution have joined forces to bring high quality cardiovascular care to the Harbor. Pictured are Elizabeth Tschimperle, Linda Presley, Rosemary Chapman, Charles Skorzewski, Dick Snyder and Michael Ballenger. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

“CardioSolution brings customized cardiovascular solutions to smaller communities that don’t have a draw for the cardiologists that are in major cities,” explains Dick Snyder, an Implementation Nurse with CardioSolution. In Grays Harbor County, this means that patients can obtain critical services right here at home, without having to drive another hour to Olympia.

“We are bringing cardiology services to the community in response to a clear need,” says Dr. Anne Marie Wong, Chief Medical Office, GHCH. “For patients in the communities we serve, that time saved can easily mean the difference between life and death.”

Grays Harbor Cardiology

In mid-May, GHCH Cardiology opened its doors on Skyview Lane, next to the orthopedic clinic. Invasive cardiologists are now available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The cardiologists will typically split the work week between clinic hours and the hospital and will always be available for consultations as needed.

In addition to general cardiology services to assess cardiac risk, monitor pacemakers and manage cardiovascular conditions, GHCH Cardiology also conducts diagnostic testing. This includes invasive cardiology previously unavailable in the area.

For example, if a patient has failed a non-invasive test such as an echocardiogram or stress testing, the patient can undergo a heart catheterization. This allows the cardiologist to observe the coronary vessels in real time to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

“We are starting off with diagnostic heart catheterizations, but our goal is to move into interventional work,” explains Snyder. That means that in a few months, patients who come into the hospital with coronary blockages or heart attacks will be able to receive treatment such as stents here in Aberdeen.

Real People, Real Problems, Real Solutions

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Cardiology Balloon Pump
Dick Snyder stands next to the balloon pump in the cath lab at GHCH. The hospital was able to use an existing high tech lab as the basis for adding much needed cardiac services to the area. Photo courtesy: Grays Harbor Community Hospital

“The positive outcomes that happen in the communities we serve are unreal,” says Snyder. For instance, a couple of years ago, CardioSolution opened a lab in a small town in New Mexico, 70 miles away from the nearest trauma center.

A patient came into the facility in complete cardiogenic shock. The cardiologist was able to quickly intervene, stabilize the patient and ship her to a higher level of care for the procedure she needed. Having necessary care available close to home saved her life.

The Right Service at the Right Time

Not only does cardiology meet a critical community need, but it allows GHCH to take advantage of already existing facilities and services. “We had wonderful equipment and related service lines already in place,” explains Charles Skorzewski, Director of Diagnostic Imaging and Lab Services. “Now we are adding the missing piece.”

The new service line provides a perfect illustration of the hospital’s growth process. By partnering with CardioSolution, GHCH is able to build on existing infrastructure, setting the stage for future expansion that will benefit the community, both with services provided and with additional employment opportunities.

Currently, CardioSolution provides the cardiologists and three specialists to staff the catheterization lab. They have hired local employees for the clinic with plans to train additional local personnel to eventually take over the work in the lab, as well. “Our goal is to have a functioning cath lab to provide care at the highest level, whether we are here or not,” says Snyder.

Ready to Treat

After months of preparation, GHCH Cardiology is ready to provide cardiac care and diagnostic testing. With a referral from your primary care provider, you can contact the office at 360-533-9830 to set up an appointment and start down the road to heart health. Whether you need initial testing or ongoing cardiology services, an expert team of physicians, nurses and technicians stand ready to help.

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