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ORHC Pumped About Cath Lab

Hospital open house next week highlights medical progress

MARK NEWMANCourier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Officials believe Ottumwa Regional Health Center’s new lab is something to brag about. Now they want to show the public why they’re excited.

An open house scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Feb. 4 puts the spotlight on the hospital’s new cardiac cath lab. The reception begins in the atrium of the clinic at 1005 Pennsylvania Ave.

“We think everybody from around the region would be interested to see the new services they previously had to leave town for,” said Jeff Atwood, vice president of communications at RegionalCare in Brentwood, Tenn., which owns the hospital. “We want to make people aware of the new and expanded services available at Ottumwa Regional. There’s a lot of growth at the hospital.”

At least one of the hospital’s doctors believes people will enjoy the chance to see technology that could save their lives.

“I think the open house could be fun,” said Dr. Michael Shaeffer, whose office is in the clinic next door to the hospital. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Atwood was in Ottumwa on Wednesday. He cited the new medical office buildings being built, abone density testing machine that should prove helpful, new physicians and the recently arrived, kidney-stone-breaking, non-invasive lithotripsy machine.  

As a urologist, Shaeffer would be one doctor who would benefit from that modern piece of equipment. But he says the real star of the night is the new cardiac cath lab. While he’s not the one working on patients suffering a heart attack, he supports the cath lab because it can save lives.

He had been pushing for such a service for 15 years, but people in charge couldn’t see the benefit, Shaeffer said. About five years ago, David Vellinga, president and CEO Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, promised to back Shaeffer’s next effort. And he did.

“I just talk. He was the engine. Now its come full circle, and people realized it’s something that’s much needed here. Now, its come to fruition,” Shaeffer said. “I want everybody within 50 miles to know it’s here.”

Shaeffer points to studies showing patients should have catheterization, which reopens blocked vessels, less than 90 minutes after feeling chest pains. It’s possible to make it to Des Moines or Iowa City within that window, but not easy.

“Not without having a helicopter flight at 3 o’clock in the morning. So this is very needed here. It does save lives,” he said. “If you’re having a heart attack, they can open up the artery and keep it from damaging your heart.”

“We’re doing the open house in conjunction with National Wear Red Day, the kickoff to National Heart Month because of our cardiac cath lab,” Atwood said.

The evening is centered around the large open space on the first floor of the clinic. While Shaeffer considers the cardiac cath lab to be the star of the evening, his contagious enthusiasm means there will be a couple of co-stars, too, Atwood said.  

“Dr. Shaeffer has arranged for Pat Hughes, the voice of the Chicago Cubs and, if you remember the movie ‘Rudy,’ the actual Rudy [Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger].”

Shaeffer said the story reminds him of the community effort to bring a cath lab to town with the people in charge saying it couldn’t be done. Ruettiger, though only 5’ 6” tall, 165 pounds and dyslexic, persevered in his effort to attend Notre Dame and to play football for the “Fighting Irish.”