MPMC unveils echocardiography unit | SkyHiNews.com

MPMC unveils echocardiography unit

Sonographer Melinda Graham administers echocardiography testing with the hospital's new equipment.

Residents of Grand County dealing with heart issues may be able to breathe a little easier next month when Middle Park Medical Center unveils its new echocardiology service, part of its efforts to revamp its cardiology unit.

Because of a $30,000 donation from the Middle Park Medical Foundation, Middle Park Medical Center patients will have access to the hospital's new echocardiography machine, a device that allows a cardiologist to monitor electrical activity and live ultrasound imaging of the heart to assess the heart's ability to pump blood and to look for abnormalities of the heart valves and chambers.

Currently, the closest place that performs echocardiography testing is in Denver.

Grand County's program will be up and running in July.

"This exciting and important service represents MPMC's patient-centered approach to care," said Melinda Graham, sonographer and lead ultrasound technologist. "Fewer patients with heart disease will choose to travel and service will be available for inpatients resulting in improved time to diagnoses."

Patients using echocardiography testing, also known as stress testing, are hooked up to 12 diodes along the chest and torso. Readings are taken at a resting state, then again during and after stress is put on the heart through exercise on a treadmill, according to Liz Thompson, director of development and marketing for Middle Park Medical Center. A cardiologist can then diagnose abnormalities that may lead to a cardiac event.

The cardiologist in this case is specialist Dr. Peter Lemis, who comes twice a week from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, to run the tests. Testing will only be available twice a week while Lemis is at the hospital.

"The nice thing about the relationship with Centura and with Steamboat Medical and other groups all over the place is that we're able to bring people here for a couple days out of the month and have high quality care right here without having to travel," said Thompson. "You get that hometown treatment with people you know along with these experts who can make a big difference in our care."

The new program wouldn't have been possible without the large donation from the Middle Park Medical Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization centered in Granby dedicated to the "advancement of rural healthcare accessibility, affordability, quality, coordination, education and advocacy."

The money was raised during the foundation's annual BASH event, a fundraising event held in March.

"The cardiology program is a large investment in our community, addressing both current needs and promoting the long-term health of our citizens and visitors," Foundation Board Chair Jeff Miller said. "This is made possible because of the generosity of all the people who participated in the BASH event."

The new program helps to address a glaring need for those in the county frustrated by having to travel to Denver every week for testing. It also provides a convenience to concerned patients being diagnosed for the first time.

"Not only will people come in if they think that they have heart disease, but if the patient is already here and he's got something going on, having the equipment here is going to be able to diagnose the situation a lot faster," said Thompson. "And with heart disease, not unlike anything with the brain, the sooner you get to it the easier it is to fix."