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Dr. Subrie Abedallhadi is the new cardiac interventionist at Community Hospital.

Had James Toby waited any longer, he probably wouldn’t have survived.

The Orestes 39-year-old was having major chest pains on May 9 but didn’t think it was serious and waited at home for several hours before seeking treatment. When he finally decided something was really wrong, he drove himself to Community Hospital Anderson where doctors told his wife he only had about 25 minutes to live.

And Community personnel made record-breaking time in getting Toby from the hospital door to having a life-saving angioplasty procedure — all in under 25 minutes.

“They saved my life,” he said. “What they did was a miracle. I’ve been told by so many people, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are.’ They really took care of me at Community.”

For about a month, Dr. Subrie Abedallhadi — an interventional cardiologist — has been dedicated to Community enhancing its program, the only one in the county able to perform interventional cardiac procedures like Toby’s. Community has the ability to do so five days a week.

Before the hospital started the program in late 2006, all patients needing procedures like a stent or angioplasty were stabilized in Anderson and then sent by ambulance or medical helicopter to an Indianapolis hospital.

That’s the procedure still in place for patients coming to Community on weekends and usually after 5 p.m. when Abedallhadi is not at the hospital.

The national standard is for patients to go from “door to balloon” — the hospital’s entryway to artery operation — in 90 minutes or under. Since Abedallhadi joined the staff full-time, Community’s average has been under 38 minutes, said Michael Zard, director of Community’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

“It means so much to our patients to know that they don’t have to go to Indy to get their treatment,” he said. “They come to our emergency department and get to stay here knowing they are going to be fixed here. That’s awesome.”

The program is far from being a 24/7 operation, Abedallhadi said, but that is something the hospital hopes to achieve. But having an on-site interventional cardiologist dedicated to the hospital and the capabilities of the cath lab makes a huge difference for many patients.

“As a hospital we are always trying to get better and better,” he said. “Our goal is to have excellent times to help these patients have a good outcome. Because in cardiology, especially interventional cardiology, time really matters a lot.”

Community’s Chief of the Emergency Department, Dr. Chris Miller, said the hospital’s different departments work closely together to help make successful outcomes for patients.

As soon as patients come into the Emergency Department with chest pain, an electrocardiograph (EKG) is conducted. A medical history and other intake information is gathered.

If an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is spotted — indicating coronary artery blockage — staff contact the cath lab and the patient is prepared and transported for the procedure.

“We feel fortunate to be able to provide — at this point during the particular hours — this service that gives our patients big advantage and their care can be given right here,” Miller said. “We are the only hospital in Madison County that offers that, and patients seem to be very surprised and happy when they find out they are able to stay here and get that better care without having to go to Indianapolis.”

Community Hospital CEO and President Bill VanNess said heart attacks are one of the most common, yet serious, conditions coming into the Emergency Department.

“Instead of having to stabilize and then transport these patients down to Indianapolis, we are able to offer our patients exceptional interventional cardiology treatment right here in Anderson,” he said. “We are the only hospital in town opening up the arteries well under the national standard. Adding Dr. Abedallhadi to our team increased the coverage of this service, in which we’ve been steadily building over the years.”

Toby said he didn’t realize just how lucky he was until after he got out of the hospital. He said he’d never had any real health concerns and to learn that just a few more minutes and he’d probably be dead was quite the eye opener. He’s changed his lifestyle and continues to feel better.

“I wish I hadn’t waited so long,” he said. “I shouldn’t have waited to go to the hospital or to know what was going on with my health. My suggestion — get your cholesterol checked. Get a heart screen. Be aware of what’s going on.”

Currently Community is the only hospital in the county offering the service although Saint John’s is working to offer the service on a part-time basis.

“Saint John’s Health System will begin offering interventional cardiac catheterizations in August,” said Katy Barrott, manager of Saint John’s Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Services and Chest Pain Center. “The interventional catheterization program is just one of many components of Saint John’s comprehensive cardiovascular services, which includes the area’s only accredited Chest Pain Center.”

Contact Abbey Doyle, 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com.

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