A Revolution is coming

Published 11:49 am Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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At 81 years old, my father was the picture of health! So, it was a shock this past April when my mother frantically called at 2 a.m. to tell me that my dad was experiencing crushing pain throughout his chest, torso, and arms. 


When EMS arrived, they immediately performed an EKG, which appeared normal. I insisted the team transport my dad to the St Luke’s Emergency Department.. Upon his arrival, the ED doctor ordered a second EKG, which was also normal. The labs revealed normal enzymes and no indication of a cardiac event. He then had a CT scan and a chest X-Ray, which were also unremarkable. 

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At this point, many emergency departments may have released my dad to go home.


The physician and clinical team diligently worked to relieve his pain. Most importantly, they observed him. Some time had passed when the intense pain began to return. The doctor quickly ordered a third EKG. And this time, it revealed that dad was actively having a heart attack. He was immediately life-flighted to another hospital for an emergent cardiac cath and triple bypass surgery. 


My dad received excellent life-saving care from St. Luke’s emergency department. Through the team’s wisdom and expertise, they did not release him as other EDs may have. Instead, they wisely chose to observe his condition, saw the onset of his heart attack, and rapidly executed the helicopter transfer to perfection. Because of the St. Luke’s ED, my dad is alive and doing well. 




If you’re having a heart attack, a stroke, or have been in a traumatic accident, your life is on the line, and every second counts. However, you live in rural Polk County and are forty-five minutes to an hour or more away from a trauma center. As with my dad, your best chance of survival is to go to St. Luke’s ED for triage and stabilization. 


The number one cause of emergency department transfers from St. Luke’s is chest pain. However, statistics show that fifty percent of cardiac patients do not need a heart catheterization. The most advanced front-line CT scanners can detect blockages with 99.5% accuracy, saving patients from costly transportation, an unneeded procedure, and the stress of a condition that doesn’t exist. In my dad’s case, if St. Luke’s had the cutting-edge CT, it would have provided detailed information to our team to diagnose my dad’s condition much quicker, confidently and accurately. 


Our emergency department does an excellent job at treating patients to a successful outcome. And when a patient has a complex case, our ED has become very adept at stabilizing and transporting them to a higher level of care. Our CT scanner is seven years old, and technology has advanced light years in that time. The new technology can see so much more in a fraction of the time. With a new scanner, many of our transfers would not need to occur.


With the addition of the new world-class doctors in cardiology, emergency, oncology, orthopedics, and urology, we are upgrading and equipping the hospital with new, world-class technology; 3D mammography, echocardiogram, and stress testing are online. The CT scanner is the next upgrade and many of you have asked about our current efforts to improve this service.


The Foundation for St. Luke’s Hospital is actively working to revolutionize CT imaging in our community by raising funds to bring the new Revolution Apex CT to the hospital. The best way to describe this technology is game-changing. Polk County patients now travel a half hour or more for high-definition, 3D diagnostic imaging. And with the new CT, our patients will receive the best imaging found anywhere in the world, right here in Polk County.


The cutting-edge platform with best-in-class technology and unparalleled clinical capabilities will upgrade our radiology department to world-class. And the new scanner will place St. Luke’s well ahead of the curve with best-in-class technology in every dimension of CT imaging. Future-ready, uncompromised clinical solutions for our hospital’s broad spectrum of care will become commonplace. 


The bottom line is with this new CT, St. Luke’s will provide some of the best imaging in the Carolinas. As a result, patients throughout the region will be coming to us for unparalleled, best-in-class imaging. Our goal is to have a new CT here by December of this year!


According to Dr. Evans Kemp, Director of Cardiology, “Having this technology as part of St Luke’s cardiovascular medicine will truly make us a world-class provider for heart health.” 


Dr. Joe Stephenson, Director of Oncology and Hematology, said, “In Oncology, frequent imaging for diagnosing and monitoring is the standard of care. Access to a best-in-class CT machine that provides a smaller radiation dose and an excellent image will significantly benefit the patient and our providers!”


We live in a very generous community here in Polk County and you often step forward to help us bring new things to serve our citizens. Over the years, we have been able to provide more and better care because you’ve cared enough to give. 


Years ago, I read something written by Orison Swett Marden.  He said, “We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” 


If you would like to learn more about making a tax-deductible gift to help bring this technology to our community please call Amanda Thompson at (828) 894-2693, or visit online at FoundationSLH.org/Scanner.


If you have a healthcare topic of interest or a question, send me a note at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or visit StLukesNC.org to learn about top-rated St. Luke’s Hospital and our new world-class services.