Combines big-city technology with small-town personal service
Featured article in the Hudson Star-Observer 10-01-09 by Doug Stohlberg, hsoeditor&rivertowns.net
New and expanded heart services offered at Hudson Hospital combine big-city technology with small-town personal service.
The local hospital now offers a complete range of cardiology services that makes Hudson one of the leaders in heart care in western Wisconsin.
Dr. Stephen Smalley is one of the cardiologists from Regions Hospital who comes to Hudson on a regular basis. He, Dr. Thomas Kottke and Dr. Marco Guerrero come to Hudson now – a fourth cardiologist, Dr. Kiran Pandey, begins her duties here on Oct. 2.
“We have a more personalized service here,” Smalley said. “People can come here in a much more relaxed setting. When you think about it, who wouldn’t rather pull into this parking lot (Hudson Hospital) rather than go into downtown St. Paul?
“When patients come here they see the same doctors – we get to know our patients and they get to know us. When you go to a big facility in the Twin Cities you often are in a rushed setting and seldom see the same doctor – this is a better setting for everyone.
"It’s a mixture of modern, high-end medicine and the older-style patient/doctor relationship.”
Specialty Clinic Manager Jackie Glaser said patient demand helped drive the need for more heart services in Hudson.
“In the past year, we have seen a 40 percent increase in patients using cardiac services,” Glaser said. “We have seen a steady increase.”
And, patients have been pleased with the services provided.
“I send thank-you notes to our patients, and I have received many calls from them,” Glaser said. “They are appreciative of being able to get services in Hudson and they like our doctors.”
Currently the Specialty Clinic is staffed about two and a half days each week by a cardiologist.
But, it’s not just a matter of bringing doctors to the clinic. The Hudson Hospital now offers many more specialized care services. Among them are:
• Specialized cardiac imaging and diagnostic testing.
• Cardiac Device Clinic (management of pacemaker and defibrillator implants).
• Lipid, cholesterol and other risk factor management.
• Phase 2 and 3 cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack.
• Cardiac education and support groups.
• Personalized and coordinated care with primary doctors
• Cardiac level 1 emergency response in partnership with Regions Hospital Heart Center and St. Croix EMS.
“The heart program has been extensively developed,” Smalley said. “Before these services were added we simply saw patients and sent them on to Regions. Now we can offer many of the services here in Hudson. The standard has been raised significantly.”
He said the imaging is a big thing in treating heart patients. Hudson now offers echocardiograms, EKGs (including treadmill testing), stress echocardiograms, nuclear cardiology and stress imaging tests.
Smalley also sang the praises of the Device Clinic, headed by Dr. Marc Guerrero.
“He is an expert in electrophysiology (study of the heart’s electrical system and heart rhythm disorders),” Smalley said.
He said the Cardiac level 1 emergency response in partnership is also a critical part of total heart health care offerings. The program is tied to Regions Hospital Heart Center and St. Croix EMS. If a patient has a heart attack, it is important to get a person to a cath lab as soon as possible.
“In the old days, a person having a heart attack would be transported to Hudson Hospital, be evaluated, transported to Regions, be evaluated, cath lab technicians would be called in and the procedure (usually angioplasty and stent implantation) would begin,” Smalley said. “The entire process could take 120 minutes (The national average is 130 minutes; and recommended time is 90 minutes or less).”
With the new relationship, local EMTs evaluate a patient and, if a heart attack is occurring, they immediately call the cath lab technicians and bring the patient straight to Regions where technicians are waiting. The time has been cut to just 88 minutes fro the call to EMS to a completed balloon procedure – critical minutes for a person having a heart attack.
Of course, the patient can then receive follow-up care in Hudson.
Dr. Smalley and Dr. Kottke have been on the leading edge of bringing expanded cardiac care to Hudson.
In addition to Drs. Smalley, Kottke, Guerrero and Pandey, the personnel in Hudson are Cardiology Patient Care Coordinator Beth Raebel, RN; Cardiology Nurse Nicole McNiesh; Cardiac Therapist and Fitness Center Coordinator Alison Egan, MS; Devise Clinic Kris Lavell, RN; and Device Clinic Denise Bradley, RN.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Kottke. “I have a tremendous opportunity to help people reduce their burden and suffering. If someone has had a heart attack, I can reduce their likelihood of death by 80 to 90 percent.”
Smalley said he looks forward to having Dr. Pandey in Hudson. He said her female perspective is something that is important in cardiac care.
Smalley also said Hudson offers the Calcium Scoring test – a procedure often advertised by Twin Cities’ hospitals.
“It’s an advanced test of heart risk,” Smalley said. “If a person has risk factors or history of heart problems in the family, the test can be a good tool.”