Helping Hearts - Norman: Patient Stories

World-class heart care, close to home

What if you or someone you love suffers a heart attack, needs heart surgery or requires a complex diagnostic procedure? When the unthinkable happens, you want to receive lifesaving care as quickly as possible in a facility offering the latest technology, excellent patient care — and close to home.

That’s exactly what you’ll find at Franciscan Heart Center, which isn’t just one place. It’s a full range of the latest in heart and vascular care provided by highly skilled experts throughout Franciscan. Whether you are cared for in your home town, or you need our highest level of care at St. Joseph Medical Center, our goal is to help you stay heart healthy for life.

Just ask 67-year-old Covington resident, Norman Nelson. In 2013, Nelson was scheduled for a routine colonoscopy when his doctor detected a slightly irregular heartbeat that needed to be assessed before Nelson could safely undergo anesthesia. He made an appointment with a cardiologist at Franciscan Heart & Vascular Associates at St. Francis, who immediately scheduled Nelson for several diagnostic tests.

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Comprehensive diagnostic tests

Franciscan Heart Center offers one of the best integrated heart systems in Washington state, providing a full spectrum of care with preventive, surgical and non-invasive services. Patients can sit down with a board-certified cardiologist, receive all the tests needed to analyze their heart health, and we can come up with plans that may include lifestyle changes, medications or surgery if necessary.

Last October, Nelson arrived at St. Francis Hospital prepared to undergo several exams. A few years earlier he had survived a heart attack thanks to life-saving care from Franciscan Health System, and now his new tests were designed to assess his heart valves and his irregular heartbeat. Among those tests, he received an echocardiogram designed to examine his heart function.

He also underwent a nuclear stress test in which radioactive dye was injected into a vein while a special camera revealed how the drug traveled through his blood and into his heart.

“It was so convenient to have all of these tests done within one single visit,” Nelson said. “Each test was done by a different individual and they were so professional. It was clear I wasn’t the first person going through this. Everything was so seamless.”

Keeping hearts healthy

Fortunately, the tests showed Nelson's heart function and valves were healthy, and Nelson then moved forward with the colonoscopy. However, should patients require further testing or treatment, these are available at St. Francis as well.

The Echocardiography Department, for example, offers a sophisticated procedure called transesophageal echocardiogram. During this test, an ultrasoundprobe is inserted into the esophagus and adjacent to the heart in order to examine the valves close up in high resolution and make an accurate diagnosis. This can help determine the appropriate time for surgical intervention if necessary to prevent heart failure.

For patients who suffer a heart attack, the cardiac catheterization lab and interventional cardiology team at the St. Francis Emergency Services department delivers rapid life-saving treatment.

How Does Your Heart Health Measure Up?