The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Rick Reibsome, of Milton, has a history of heart attacks. He experienced his first a few years ago.
In July as he was getting ready for work, he recognized the symptoms — chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea — and knew he had to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
“I knew I needed care, and I needed it right away,” recalls Reibsome. “I immediately chose Evangelical Community Hospital.”
After an assessment in the emergency department, he was wheeled to the Donehower-Eisenhauer Pavilion that houses two cardiac catheterization labs and hosts a team of cardiac care professionals prepared to handle both emergent and non-emergent heart issues.
Within an hour of his arrival at Evangelical, Reibsome was in the catheterization lab where doctors could see his left anterior descending coronary artery was blocked, which left untreated could result in virtually all of the heart muscle dying. This more severe type of heart attack is called a STEMI, which stands for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. Reibsome’s STEMI was the first emergent procedure performed at Evangelical Community Hospital in the new facility.
Prior to the development of Evangelical’s advanced cardiovascular program, Reibsome would have been transferred to a hospital with on-site cardiac surgery, taking away minutes of valuable treatment time and risking more damage to the heart muscle — and possibly his life.
‘The pain was gone’
“I felt like I was drowning as I went into heart failure in the cath lab. Within seconds the doctor had the stent in place and immediately the pain was gone,” said Reibsome.
Reibsome’s experience is an example of vision come to life for Evangelical Community Hospital.
The same week of Reibsome’s heart attack, the hospital opened the Donehower-Eisenhauer Pavilion for patient care with a floor dedicated to cardiovascular procedures.
The expertise of the cardiovascular team, combined with a facility that includes two catheterization labs equipped with the most advanced equipment and technology, allows the hospital to handle both preventative and emergency cardiac cases. In addition, with state-of-the-art imaging technology, physicians and caregivers can see what is happening with the heart and surrounding arteries.
In 2010, Evangelical was selected to participate in a national study to determine if heart catheterization procedures could be performed safely at a hospital without on-site cardiac surgery.
A partner hospital
In order to participate in the study, Evangelical needed to partner with a hospital that offered on-site cardiac surgery — Evangelical chose Geisinger Medical Center, a Reuter’s Top 100 Heart Hospital that offers open heart surgery.
As a result Evangelical was given permission to begin offering vital catheterization services to its patients. Participation in the study was the only way for a hospital in Pennsylvania without on-site heart surgery to provide catheterization services.
In 2012, the national study was completed and the positive patient outcomes proved that it was just as safe to perform interventional heart catheterization procedures at Evangelical and other hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery, as it is at hospitals with on-site cardiac surgery. Evangelical has continued its partnership with Geisinger for the purpose of developing and expanding its cardiac program. As a result, Evangelical has performed more than 718 procedures since the program’s inception in 2010. For Reibsome, the difference meant life or death.
“Instituting the cardiovascular program at Evangelical Community Hospital shows our dedication and commitment to answering the community’s heart needs,” said Dr. J. Lawrence Ginsburg, vice president of medical affairs.
“We’ve had consistent successful outcomes since the program’s inception, allowing patients to receive cardiac care at the hospital of their choice, where patient-centered and individualized treatment is a priority.”
Following Reibsome’s catheterization, he enrolled in Evangelical’s cardiac rehabilitation program.
Through careful monitoring by the staff, he was told that he needed more than just cardiac rehab. His cardiologist completed another non-emergent heart catheterization to get his heart to work even more efficiently, and when he returned to rehab, he made consistent progress.
Things had to change
“Through the work with rehab and evaluation of my lifestyle, I knew things had to change. I had to eat better, exercise more and assess stress in my life. I started working part-time and now I feel well and can enjoy what I could have missed if Evangelical’s professionals didn’t step in during and after the attack,” said Reibsome. “The cardiac catheterization team worked quickly to open my artery which gave me a second chance and more time with my wife and children.”