Cardiac stress testing will soon skip leaps and bounds at St. John hospital in Vanderhoof by means of a medical treadmill.
“It will allow us to pick up [even the slightest] damage to the heart and ultimately avoid death,” said April Hughes, health services administrator, Omineca region.
The treadmill and accompanying electrocardiography (ECG) technologies are specially designed to monitor cardiac rhythms at a cost of more than $60,000. Although the test themselves will be free to patients of all ages, special training is needed to give physicians and nurses the proper know-how to run them. A hopeful $40,000 has already been collected to go toward the state-of-the-art equipment, solely supported by local businesses and individuals, along with a $15,000 commitment from the hospital auxiliary. Additional add-ons such as a special table to hold wiring and a resuscitation life pack will also be purchased, but more funding is needed Ms. Hughes said.
“The life pack itself is $22,000 but includes a defibrillator that’s portable so if someone has a heart attack while being tested you can save their life,” Ms. Hughes said.
The idea sprung to Dr. Mike Makin last fall and with help of the hospital auxiliary society, orchestrated public and private donations through letters sent out in November 2014. Bud Pye, President of the Vanderhoof and Districts CoOp board of directors, jumped on the idea.
“I’ve been though heart problems and the sooner a doctor can look at a person the better,” Mr. Pye said. “This will reduce the waiting because until now people had to go out of town.”
This kind of treadmill testing has been offered in Fraser Lake for a number of years but never in Vanderhoof.
“Some people have symptoms but we are not sure,” said Dr. Makin. “With this test we will be able to pick up cardiac arrhythmias and vessel blockages to predict heart attack so we can send people to Vancouver before an episode.”
This past summer, a $5 million renovation over 10 months was completed at St. Johns which shifted the outpatient department to the emergency department. The plan is to turn the old out patient area into a dedicated space for the stress testing equipment, said Ms. Hughes. “The renovation helped to free up some space so now we can actually add this diagnostic tool to our hospital to catch heart disease before people have a heart attack,” said Ms. Hughes. “We are so thankful for Dr. Makin and Dr. Obayashi for their commitment to bringing this service.” The hope is to have all the equipment in place by spring. Anyone interested in giving a donation toward the ECG treadmill can contact the hospital auxiliary president Edna Oryschuck at 250-567-9759.