Home is Where the Heart is: Cardiac Care at Fort Duncan

January 03, 2019
Home is Where the Heart Is - Cardiac care at Fort Duncan

When it comes to a heart-related health crisis, minutes count. Opened in mid-November, the clinicians of the new cardiac catheterization lab at Fort Duncan Regional Medical Center are ready to assess and treat patients right in the Eagle Pass community.

The new cardiac catheterization lab is just one way we’re showing how much we care for our residents. Thanks to a variety of new capabilities, our healthcare professionals and technicians can complete many cardiac tests right here.

This lab adds treatment capabilities previously only available in San Antonio, hours away by car or ambulance. For critical or acute patients, the goal is to meet the national standard of 90-minute door-to-balloon time to open blocked arteries. Cardiologists Lon Walder, DO and James Galizia, MD see patients in the new cath lab, and the lab staff is prepared to perform cardiac catheterizations in minutes during an emergency.

Mending hearts right in the community

Critical heart care now available in Eagle Pass

Charge Nurse Cesar M. Garza, RN, BSN says of the new lab, “This is a totally new department. We had a mobile unit that only performed diagnostic tests, but now we can perform diagnostic and interventional procedures.” He continued, “We also have all new equipment, imaging equipment and software, and we can share results with other facilities if needed.”

The cath lab addresses a need driven by the residents of the Eagle Pass area. “Helping prevent cardiac disease is a very, very important service based on the population here,” Garza says. “It’s a calling to care for this population.” He also acknowledges how the new cath lab will help area residents avoid a long trip to San Antonio for advanced treatment. ”Patients are expecting to stay a few days in San Antonio and it becomes a social burden because they don’t have the family and resources nearby.”

Garza is passionate about the patient experience, especially because a visit to the cath lab can be frightening or stressful. When a patient arrives at the lab, it may be on an emergency or critical basis — to rule out or diagnose a heart attack, for example. For him, empathy is vital to a positive patient experience, saying “Being comfortable in your treatment is so important. All the cath lab staff is bilingual so they will be able to communicate in Spanish or English as patients prefer.”

A new facility benefits the entire community — even FDRMC staff

Even members of the Fort Duncan staff welcome the new cath lab: Recently, Nuclear Medicine Technician Armando Perez was transferred to San Antonio for his own cardiac catheterization. His treatment was successful, but the long ride to and from another city added stress to the procedure. Now, Perez is excited that others will be able to avoid traveling out of town for treatment. “The community will be more comfortable receiving these services here at home,” he said.