Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm
Southeastern Wisconsin medical centers outside of Milwaukee are providing top-of-the-line cardiac care and continue to evolve with their urban counterparts. The objective of the community hospitals is to provide quality care within a more reasonable distance than driving to Milwaukee.
"Rural" no longer means "limited" when it comes to cardiovascular care.
"Consumers are more aware of heart disease. As the population ages, we are seeing an increasing demand for cardiac care. As a community hospital, we need to accommodate those demands," said Robert Stawicki, executive director of All Saints Cardiovascular Institute, Racine.
Health care providers such as All Saints St. Mary’s Medical Center in Racine and Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls can perform open-heart surgery on-site in their heart and vascular centers.
Hospitals such as St. Joseph’s Community Hospital in West Bend and St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan can help a cardiac patient with everything short of surgery.
John Reiling, president of St. Joseph’s, said heart diagnosis is the most important diagnosis for most hospitals, and all have some form of cardiac care. Reiling sees the level of cardiac care rising substantially.
"If you look at catheterization labs, 10 to 15 years ago it was a little out of the norm to see them in a community-based hospital," Reiling said. "Now, St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee has announced the launch of a full-service cardiac catheterization and surgery addition, along with others. It shows hospitals that have strong heart programs is possible in today’s world."
The All Saints Cardiovascular Institute, Racine, has full-service cardiac care, from education, screening and prevention, to diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation. According to Stawicki, the institute uses Philips Medical Systems equipment in its catheterization lab, the same equipment used at the Wisconsin Heart Hospital.
"Patients in Racine should feel secure in knowing that we can offer them everything," Stawicki said. "Time is muscle. Because we are close to home, we can meet the American Heart Association’s 90-minute benchmark for the performance of an angioplasty."
All Saints currently is building an on-site extension to the Cardiovascular Institute with an undetermined opening date. Stawicki said the new Institute will be six stories, bringing all cardiac services into a concentrated area and offering additional patient rooms.
In January 2003, Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls, opened its Heart and Vascular Center for efficiency by bringing together all processes involved with cardiac care.
"We have always offered cardiac care services other than open-heart surgery," said Bryan Breeser, director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Community Memorial. "Before the center opened, we found that on average, seven people a day were leaving our hospital to receive definitive care from Waukesha, St. Luke’s or St. Joe’s."
In its first year, the center preformed more than 150 heart surgeries and more than 500 electro-physiology procedures, Breeser said.
The new center is 50,000 square feet and allows for state-of-the-art definitive and emergency services, including eight new surgical suites, an extended intensive care unit, cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs.
Kathy Leonhardt, director of critical care services for St. Nicholas Hospital, said the Sheboygan facility also is equipped to accommodate anyone that comes into the emergency room with a chest pain or any other symptom requiring immediate attention, although St. Nicholas does not perform open-heart surgery.
"We work closely with the Milwaukee hospitals and with Covenant and Froedtert, where we can quickly transfer emergency patients to them on an as-needed basis," Leonhardt said. "Many patients transfer to those hospitals for the surgery and then come back to the cardiac rehab center at St. Nicholas for our therapeutic exercise program."
"It is relative to the population that you serve, and the best way to provide health care is to provide it close to home," Reiling said. "We serve a geographic community of over 140,000 people. The heart needs of that population are large. Hospitals like ours can provide these services within a resident’s geographic region and more cost effectively than a Milwaukee hospital."
April 30, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee