Patients in Bedford County who need cardiac catherization will have a new choice for treatment next week when Conemaugh Nason Hospital in Roaring Spring opens its $3.2 million cardiac catherization lab.

Nason will host a grand opening and ribbon cutting on Jan. 14 at 11:30 a.m.

While there, the public can see the newly renovated space that includes updated equipment to help cardiac patients live longer, fuller lives. RSVPs were due by Jan. 9.

Jenn Shade, catherization lab manager, said having the lab at Nason will lessen travel time for those in the area who need a scheduled catherization but, more importantly, for those who need immediate attention.

Shade said the medical field has a phrase that applies to heart patients: “Time is muscle.”

“The longer you go without treatment, the more muscle damage you incur,” Shade said.

Shade said if an ambulance crew is picking up a heart attack patient, they go to the closest facility. Now Nason will be closer for many who previously had to go to Altoona or even to Nason’s sister facility in Johnstown.

Tina Walter, manager for Southern Cove Ambulance Inc., said it’s good news for the residents of the Cove to see a higher level of care closer to their community.

“It’s nice to know the cath lab is getting closer to the residents out here in the Cove.” Previously, residents would have to go to Altoona, about 28 miles. Nason, in Roaring Spring, is about 15 miles out.

“A lot of residents have doctors here and go to Nason Hospital anyway,” she said. Having the cath lab at Nason “kind of puts them closer to their (primary care physician),” Walter said.

The cath lab will have four individuals on-call around the clock, Shade said.

“If someone is having an active heart attack, we are on call and we have a response time of 30 minutes or less,” she said.

The idea and construction for the lab has been two years in process, Shade said.

Next week, registered nurses and technicians will have their first patients who are already scheduled, said Heidi Kreider, business development and volunteer/community relations for Nason.

The Department of Health gave its final approval Monday.

“It’s so good for our community,” Kreider said Tuesday. “It’s actually going to save lives.”

The staff includes four nurses, three technicians and Shade. Another staff member will be hired shortly, Kreider said.

Shade said patients at Nason have asked for a catherization facility. Forunately, Life Point and Nason were able to deliver.

“We’re providing a critical service without them having to leave their community,” Shade said. All the equipment is state-of-the-art with three pre- and post-care bays.

Nason is a 45-bed hospital that is part of the Life Point Health, which has 89 hospitals in 30 states. Life Point Health acquired the rural hospital in early 2015.

At the time, Life Point said it would invest $8.5 million in capital improvements at Nason over the next 10 years. It included investments in physician recruitment, technology upgrades, new equipment and renovations.

Contact Elizabeth Coyle at ecoyle@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 105.

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