Serious as a Heart Attack

Earlier this month, nearly 50 Sun Health Foundation friends gathered in the Sun City West home of Birt and Louisa Kellam for some socializing and refreshments. It may have looked like a normal party to the casual observer, but things were about to get serious.

Birt Kellam introduced Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center (BDWMC) CEO Debbie Flores, who thanked the assembled for their financial support of the medical center and gave examples of how that support has paid dividends in providing superior health care for the community.

She turned it over to cardiologist Fredric Klopf, M.D. who outlined how donor contributions have led to advances in cardiac care at BDWMC, including the 90-minute door-to-balloon treatment standard approved by the American College of Cardiology for treating heart attacks. Early treatment has been found to not only save lives, but also to minimize heart- and brain-tissue damage.

Suddenly, one of guests clutched his chest, complaining of chest pain, pressure, and shortness of breath.  

Sun Health Heart Attack DemonstrationThe guest was Sun Health Foundation (SHF) board member Darl Bachmann, who was pretending to have a heart attack to demonstrate how heart attack patients are treated in the field, and in the emergency room and cath lab at BDWMC.

It was part of “Heart Attack 101,” an educational event organized by the Foundation in cooperation with the Sun City West Fire Department and BDWMC. Guests got a ringside seat on a heart attack from the onset of symptoms to successful treatment.

After Bachmann’s pseudo-attack, BDWMC Pre-Hospital Coordinator Tracy Irwin staged a call to 911. Dr. Klopf and Irwin explained what was going on as Sun City West Fire paramedics and firefighters arrived and went to work on Bachmann.

Paramedics started a fake IV, hooked up a 12-lead EKG monitor and loaded Bachmann in an ambulance, which sped off to the emergency room (ER). Guests followed in buses with Irwin and BDWMC Cardiac Services Director Diane Penkert, who shared details about treatments Bachmann would likely undergo during transport.

Sun Health Heart Attack DemonstrationAt the ER at BDWMC, they were met by Dr. William Mostow, chief of staff and medical director of emergency services, and Susan Hopf, nursing director of emergency services. Guests received an overview of the ER’s cardiac capabilities and learned how Bachmann’s staged EKG results indicated the need for a balloon angioplasty procedure.

The patient was transported to the cath lab, followed by his entourage. With Bachmann lying on a procedure table, the lab’s medical director, Dr. Pranav Patel, explained how a balloon angioplasty works using video of an actual case. Patel then passed sample catheters and stents around the room, so guests could view the tools and equipment used in these procedures.

The evening ended with a “question and answer” session between the guests and physicians.

“It was an excellent way to learn about the great cardiac care offered right in our own backyard and see how donor contributions have made it possible,” Bachmann said.

Sun Health Heart Attack DemonstrationIn the recent past, community support funded a new $7.4 million cath lab at BDWMC, doubling previous capacity and enabling staff to treat more patients who need minimally invasive cardiac procedures or diagnostic cath services.

“We’re honored to partner with Banner Del E. Webb to support these exceptional programs that have helped so many cardiac patients. We’re grateful to all who participated in the drill to help educate our community about the importance of cardiac care,” said Penny Cowden, VP and chief development officer for SHF.

Foundation donors are also helping advance cardiac care and research at Banner Boswell Medical Center by funding minimally invasive valve procedures in a new hybrid operating suite now under construction, and cutting-edge cardiac stem cell research at Banner Sun Health Research Institute. For more information, please contact Sara Villanueva, (623) 832-5536 or sara.villanueva@sunhealth.org.