Emergency nurse Charley Goodwin 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 the staff with 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. When he arrived, they hooked him up to the EKG, and immediately he knew what was happening.
“I was having a heart attack!,” he recalled.
The staff flew into action: Heart attack protocol calls for intervention within 90 minutes of the patient's complaint. They administered blood thinners and beta blockers, and started an IV to prepare for the catheterization (cath) lab. The doctor 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 Charley’s arteries. The physician acted immediately, inserting three stents to open Charley’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,” Charley said. After three days, he was able to go home, and he returned to work for a 12-hour shift two weeks later.
Time is muscle
Charley understands the necessity of immediate treatment.
“The quicker a patient receives treatment in the cath lab, the more heart muscle you save,” he said.
Had Goodwin needed more complex heart surgery, he would have been transferred to Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, said 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 noted.