As Mercy Heart Hospital Springfield takes shape, the care inside continues to advance as well.
Mercy held a blessing and ribbon cutting Monday for Phase II of the three-phase construction project. This phase relocates the clinic space from Mercy Clinic - Whiteside and opens a dedicated entrance for heart patients, offering them valet parking for their doctor’s visits.
“Our heart hospital construction project was scheduled to be opened in two phases originally,” said Adam Whitten, vice president of Heart, Lung and Vascular Services at Mercy Springfield. “When we saw there was an opportunity to make access easier for our patients by moving our physicians into the new clinic space earlier, we jumped at the chance to finish up this portion of the construction. Patients will be able to pull right up to the door, have someone else park their car and immediately get on the elevator. For many of our heart patients, those saved steps make a big difference.”
Along with improvements in where the care is provided, Mercy doctors continue to pursue the very best and procedures and tests.
One of the latest advancements is the MitraClip procedure, where doctors can repair a leaky heart valve through a tiny incision in the patient’s groin. “The mitral valve on the left side of the heart is a gatekeeper,” explained Dr. Prasad Gunasekaran. “If it’s not functioning correctly, blood flows in the wrong direction and floods the lungs, causing congestive heart failure.”
That was the case for 64-year-old Mark Shoemaker, who went to the doctor thinking he just needed an antibiotic.
“I had coughing and congestion,” he said. “I was short of breath and was having a hard time getting up and down the stairs at home. I didn’t have any chest pressure and I’d had pneumonia before, so that’s what I thought it was.”
Instead, he learned he had a leaky mitral valve and would need surgery to fix it. Because he’s on dialysis and has other health conditions, he couldn’t withstand the traditional open heart surgery. He was surprised to hear that Mercy offered this new, much less invasive procedure.
“I was amazed when they told me they could fix it by going in through my leg,” Shoemaker said. “I could even tell a difference right after the procedure – and there was no pain.” He spent one night in the hospital and went home the next day.
Like most, it took Shoemaker a few weeks to get back to normal, but now he’s spending his days remodeling his house. “Before the procedure, I could only work five or 10 minutes before I needed to rest,” he said. “Now I can keep going all day. I would definitely recommend this surgery and the team at Mercy to do it. They were very thorough and coordinated with all my other doctors.”
Some patients are avoiding invasive heart tests altogether, thanks to a new diagnostic advancement available at Mercy, called HeartFlow. “Standard cardiac CT scans show us how much the heart arteries have narrowed,” explained Dr. Anoop Parameswaran, Mercy cardiologist. “It doesn’t show us if the narrowed artery is reducing blood flow to the heart. To determine that, we used to always turn to an angiogram, which is an invasive procedure that sends dye into your arteries so we can see what’s going on.”
Instead, the HeartFlow Analysis uses the patient’s CT scan to create a computerized, 3D model of the heart. It determines if the narrowed artery is causing a reduction in blood flow, and whether doctors need to consider further treatment options, like medications, diet changes, or procedures to clean out and stent the artery.
“We have a real team approach at Mercy Springfield when it comes to evaluating our patients and trying new technology and procedures,” said Dr. David Cochran, Mercy cardiologist and vice president of Heart, Lung and Vascular Services. “We aren’t afraid to be the first to learn something new if it will benefit our patients. It’s why we’re able to offer options here that aren’t available elsewhere in our region – and sometimes we’re the only ones in the state to do them. Our outstanding new facility is matched only by our outstanding treatment options.”
Phase I of the construction for Mercy Heart Hospital Springfield, which opened in fall of 2018, included cardiac nuclear medicine and the non-invasive testing area. Patients have been accessing the area through the main entrance to Mercy Hospital Springfield.
The final phase of the project is still set for completion in fall of 2020. It includes heart surgery prep and recovery, cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology procedure rooms, cardiothoracic surgery operating rooms, a post-acute care unit and an observation unit.