Johnston Memorial Hospital introduces life-saving interventional heart care to Southwest Virginia


~A highly experienced team of doctors and staff bring the only 24/7 advanced heart program to Southwest Virginia~

ABINGDON, Va. – In a move that will save lives and improve the healthcare for everyone in Southwest Virginia, Johnston Memorial Hospital has implemented a new interventional cardiology program, allowing highly experienced doctors to not just diagnose but also to treat patients for urgent heart problems.

This life-saving service is available 24 hours a day.  

When a patient is experiencing chest pain, it may be a heart attack – a condition where blood flow to the heart has been severely impaired.  Fast treatment is essential in order to minimize damage to the heart, and likely makes the difference between life and death for a patient. 

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association agree that the time between a patient’s arrival at a hospital to the time he or she receives percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)– a procedure that opens blocked arteries and restores blood flow to the heart muscle – should be 90 minutes or less in order to minimize damage to the patient’s heart. With the new services in place, Johnston Memorial has been able to achieve a treatment time from door to intervention of 20 to 30 minutes – well exceeding hospital industry standards for high quality.

Just ask Jannie Roush, one of the program’s first patients. She was suffering from heart attack symptoms and was rushed to Johnston Memorial from a local urgent care facility. Dr. John Patterson with Mountain States Medical Group Cardiology was waiting to treat her when she arrived, and she received PCI in just 23 minutes.

“I’m so grateful for the quick response of Dr. Patterson and his team at JMH,” Roush said. “Their experience and care helped me return to work without hesitation. I’m grateful that we have this lifesaving service right here in Southwest Virginia.”

“When you are experiencing chest pain, do not wait, and do not second-guess yourself,” said Sean McMurray, President and CEO of Johnston Memorial Hospital.  “Call 911 or get help and ask them to bring you to Johnston Memorial Hospital, where our team will be waiting to make sure you are immediately diagnosed and treated.  This may be the difference between life and death”

“Stopping a heart attack quickly is the most important thing we can do,” said Dr. Patterson.  “We are so thankful that Johnston Memorial Hospital has made this investment into becoming a regional center of excellence for cardiology.  Reducing travel time is not only a convenience to patients, but it will save their lives.  This is one of the most important things we have done at Johnston Memorial since we opened the new hospital.  On behalf of the physicians, I thank the Board of Johnston Memorial and Mountain States Health Alliance for this major investment in our region.”

The interventional heart care services at Johnston Memorial are in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning highly trained specialists are available any time of the day or night, including weekends.

In addition to saving lives, this new service establishes Johnston Memorial Hospital as a full service referral center for advanced cardiac disease, and as a part of Mountain States Health Alliance, the region’s largest health system, makes available the full complement of services patients need. 

The hospital has assembled a team of highly trained and experienced cardiologists and staff members to provide these expanded services. Leading the way are Patterson, Dr. Eduardo Balcells, and Dr. Gregory Miller.  Bringing nearly five decades of experience to Johnston Memorial, these doctors have experience diagnosing and treating a high volume of complex, high-risk cardiovascular disease.  These doctors also have extensive experience in research.

Team members at Johnston Memorial have been working with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers to train them on identifying heart attack symptoms and initiating on the spot diagnostics (electrocardiogram) procedures and stabilization before the patient even arrives at the hospital.  Johnston Memorial will be notified, and while the patient is in transport, the catheterization lab at the hospital will be activated and ready for the patient’s arrival. 

“Our relationship with EMS is important as we seek to save lives, and that’s why when you call 911 when you think you may be having a heart attack, that really can make the difference between life and death,” said McMurray.  “It is important when you do call for help, that you ask them to bring you to Johnston Memorial as quickly as possible.”

For more information, call 276-258-3740.

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