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Charley Goodwin

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A Heartening Experience: Nurse learns what it means to be a patient in Emergency Department where he works

Emergency nurse Charley Goodwin always knew that the heart care he and his colleagues provide at Sentara CarePlex Hospital is the best available, but one experience solidified that knowledge.  He now credits them for saving his life.

It was New Year's Eve, 2006, and 57-year-old Goodwin had been feeling "off" all weekend.  Finally, on New Year's Day, he asked his wife, Debby, to drive him to Sentara CarePlex Hospital from their home in Portsmouth, a 25 mile hike.

“I thought they would treat me, and I would report to work,” he explains. He phoned the Emergency Department en route to inform the staff. When he arrived, they hooked him up to the EKG, and immediately he knew what was happening.

“I was having a heart attack!” he recalls.

Immediate, expert treatment available at Sentara
The Sentara CarePlex Hospital Emergency Department staff flew into action: Heart attack protocol calls for intervention within 90 minutes of the patient’s complaint. They administered the appropriate medications, including blood thinners and beta blockers, and started an IV to prepare Goodwin for the catheterization (cath) lab. Once there, the doctor on call performed a procedure using a catheter (a long, thin, flexible tube) guided through the arteries to identify structural problems in the vessels. He found several narrowed areas, including a 99-percent blockage in one of his arteries. The physician acted immediately, inserting three stents to open Goodwin’s blocked vessels. A stent is a wire mesh tube inserted through the catheter to open and reinforce the artery wall, improving blood flow to the heart.

“The next day, I felt 100 percent better,” Goodwin says. After three days, he was able to go home and returned to work for a 12-hour shift two weeks after the heart attack.

Time is muscle
During his time in the U.S. Navy, where he served in Vietnam (earning several purple hearts, a silver star and bronze star), Goodwin helped soldiers wounded in combat, sparking his interest in medicine. He understands the necessity of immediate treatment, and he and his emergency care co-workers at Sentara CarePlex Hospital train for this very situation.

“Time is muscle,” Goodwin says. “The quicker a patient receives treatment in the cath lab, the more heart muscle you save.” The staff practices the protocol consistently to hone response time and achieves excellent results: Ninety-four percent of the patients presenting with the same type of heart attack as Goodwin receive angioplasty in the 90-minute timeframe.

Sentara CarePlex Hospital treats more than 3,000 patients experiencing acute heart pain a year, thanks to the recent opening of a second fully equipped cath lab staffed by board-certified cardiologists and additional specialty-trained staff. Treatments include cardiac catheterization, angioplasty, stent placement and pacemaker implantation.

Quality cardiac care across the region
Had Goodwin needed more complex heart surgery, he would have been transferred to Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, says Shannon Ferguson, manager of patient care services at Sentara CarePlex Hospital. “Interventional treatments in the cath lab are our specialty, but for cases requiring surgical intervention, cardiac surgery or bypass, we can easily transport patients to the Sentara Heart Hospital,” she notes.

Sentara Cardiac Services, an interconnected network of cardiac care throughout the Sentara system, gives patients access to innovative treatment, no matter where they live in the Hampton Roads area, she explains.

Proud to be part of the team
For Goodwin, this past year has been an experience.

“I’m approaching 60, so I expected to slow down a little,” he says. “But after my treatment, I instantly felt better --- like 10 years had been erased from my age.” He quit smoking, eats better and is getting more exercise. “I climbed to the top of a lighthouse in the Outer Banks recently; my wife didn’t think I could do it, but it felt great.”

Most importantly, after living the patient experience, he’s discovered the protocol that he and his staff practice works --- and saves lives.

“Our team loves what they are doing, and all the hard work pays off,” he says. “I’m proud --- and thankful --- to be a part of it.”

Find out about Sentara's Wellness Programs and Resources.

Read more of the Heart feature stories in Network and other Cardiac Patient Stories.

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