St. Luke’s firsts

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, August 23, 2022

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When I accepted the position at St. Luke’s, I knew that significant changes would need to occur to reach our goal of becoming a self-sustaining institution. Since our turn-around began, we’ve become one of the top critical access hospitals in a 200-mile radius, according to CMS. And rated us sixteen percent higher than the national average and the leading hospital in the region for outstanding patient experience.



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If you’ve been following this column, our advertising, and our social media posts, you know that we’ve added two new practices in three years—urology and cardiology. We’ve brought on new world-class doctors in Dr. Azar (orthopedic), Dr. Bodie (urology), Dr. Kemp (cardiology), and Dr. Joe Stephenson (oncology/hematology). As a result, we now offer the best-in-class 3D mammography, have recently come online with our state-of-the-art ECHO lab, and are working hard to raise funds to bring a world-class Revolution Apex CT scanner online by the end of the year (to learn more about this effort, visit


But today, I’m writing to give you a progress report on our new cardiology practice.


Dr. Evans Kemp joined St. Luke’s on June 1 as the director of St. Luke’s Cardiology. In his first month in the brand-new practice, he saw nearly one hundred patients. I find that remarkable for a start-up. But, with word-of-mouth from satisfied patients, his practice is rapidly growing beyond that. And as his practice grows, so will the “firsts” at St. Luke’s.


Dr. Kemp recently performed two procedures at St. Luke’s: transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and electrical cardioversion. And while both procedures are new to our hospital, Dr. Kemp has performed nearly one thousand of these procedures throughout his career.




Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) uses ultrasound to produce detailed images of your heart and the arteries. Because of the esophagus’s proximity to the heart’s upper chambers, the imagery of the heart and valve structures is very clear. After sedation, a TEE procedure uses an echo transducer attached to a thin tube that passes down your throat and into your esophagus. 


Dr. Kemp uses TEE to find structural and functional issues with your heart, often missed through a standard echocardiogram. The detail and clarity of the images produced by the TEE are remarkable, and the diagnostic benefits are invaluable. In addition, because we are using two- and three-dimension technology, the images of the cardiac structures are lifelike, not seen with other imaging technologies.


Dr. Kemp also uses TEE for people with larger body types and those who may be on a ventilator. 


Things that Dr. Kemp can learn through the TEE are:


  • Efficiency of heart function
  • The presence of infections on the heart valves
  • Leaking, narrowed, and blocked valves
  • The presence of blood clots in the heart chambers




Electrical cardioversion uses short, low-energy shocks to return your heart to a regular rhythm. It’s a treatment used for irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), including atrial fibrillation (A-fib)—when the electrical signals do not correctly transmit through the heart’s upper chambers. This procedure, done under light sedation, usually restores a normal heart rhythm immediately. Typically scheduled in advance, electrical cardioversion can also be emergency treatment. 


Cardioversion is not defibrillation. Defibrillation is an emergency procedure using more powerful shocks to restore heart rhythm when the heart stops beating. 


St. Luke’s Cardiology


Dr. Kemp sees patients with angina, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm issues, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, valvular heart disease, and congestive before heart failure. He also treats patients with more complex heart conditions. 


He uses many treatment options, including lifestyle modifications, medications, and procedures. He routinely conducts state-of-the-art testing to help make an accurate diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan. In addition, Dr. Kemp works closely with cardiovascular surgeons should surgery be required.


Dr. Kemp is one of the best cardiologists in the country, and we are blessed to have him in our community. To learn more about his practice, visit, or call (828) 894-5627.


If you have a healthcare topic of interest or a question, send me a note at