When Bonham “Ed” Freeman pulled up to the emergency department at Mercy Hospital Washington, he wasn’t convinced he was having a heart attack, so he was amazed by the quick response of the medical staff – all for what he thought was the flu.
“Those guys went so fast it was a blur. Everyone had their job to do and they were right on it,” Freeman said. “It was pretty impressive, just like you see on TV, and they probably saved my life.”
Freeman had never considered himself a candidate for heart disease so he thought his symptoms were flu related. They started while he was running errands on a break from work in Chesterfield. He felt sick. He pulled over and sat in his car. “I was convinced I had the flu. I was sick to my stomach, getting sick, and I had a high fever,” he said.
He managed to drive all the way home to Union, where his wife Sarah saw him – pale and weak – and immediately knew it more than just the flu. Despite that, Freeman told her not to call 911 because he didn’t want EMS crews wasting their time with him when they had real emergencies to deal with.
Sarah drove Freeman to the emergency department and that was when the Mercy staff sprung into action. Freeman was brought inside and within 38 minutes was in the cardiac catheterization lab where Mercy interventional cardiologist Dr. Joseph Moore opened Freeman’s blockages, the source of his heart attack, with two stents. The national goal for the time between entering the emergency department and receiving interventional care for a heart attack – or “door to balloon time” – is 90 minutes.
Dr. Moore performed the cath through an artery on the thumb side of Freeman’s hand, called a transradial cardiac catheterization, so when it was over, all Freeman had to show for his heart attack was a band-aid on his wrist. The advantages of the transradial cardiac catheterization are that most patients are candidates for the procedure, the puncture site can be closed immediately and most patients can get out of bed immediately.
Since Dr. Moore arrived fulltime in Washington in May and the cath lab opened 24/7 in early September, patients have been receiving immediate cardiac care upon entering the emergency department with chest pain. They also are being airlifted to Mercy Hospital Washington from hospitals in other counties.
“Time is imperative when it comes to treating a heart attack because time is muscle,” said Dr. Moore. “It’s very common for people to confuse heart attack symptoms with other ailments, but the faster we can treat patients, the better the outcome is for survival and recovery.”
Freeman’s wife Sarah understands the concept. “When it comes to a heart attack, time is of the essence. If I were having a heart attack, I would be here in 30 seconds,” she said. “Anyone who lives around here would be crazy to drive to St. Louis when they could get this kind of care here.”
Mercy Hospital Washington is an Accredited Chest Pain Center with a chest pain observation program, and a 24-hour on-call cath lab. If you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 911.