The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

October 15, 2009

ORHC applying for cardiac cath lab

Hospital must use ‘certificate of need’ process

OTTUMWA — If you’re a local resident with heart problems, a cardiac catheterization center at Ottumwa Regional Health Center is most likely a comforting idea.

Ottumwa Regional officials certainly believe such a center “would greatly improve quality and patients’ access to local cardiac care,” according to Tom Siemers, the hospital’s president/CEO.

Ottumwa Regional is applying for permission from the State of Iowa to build a cardiac catheterization lab. Part of the application process requires letters of support from Ottumwans and residents in the eight-county area the hospital serves (Wapello, Appanoose, Davis, Mahaska, Monroe, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lucas).

Siemers said the lab would make “a profound improvement in the way care is being delivered.”

What the hospital does now is “pass patients on” to a facility that offers complete cardiac care. Cardiac patients requiring diagnostic or interventional procedures must travel in excess of 1.5 hours for treatment.

Siemers said that annually, more than 900 heart-care patients “are transferred out of our care.” Adding a cardiac cath lab with full interventional capabilities, will alleviate the need for patients to travel or be transferred to a facility outside the recommended treatment time of 90 minutes for an acute myocardial infarction.

“I want to stress there are hospitals in each county we serve and they are excellent hospitals, but they don’t have an interventional cardiac facility available, either,” Siemers said. “That’s the reason this is so important. But, we can’t go out and start a new service.”

The hospital has to follow the “certificate of need” process, according to Iowa law. Five elected commissioners comprise the state’s Certificate of Need (CON) Commission and they hear proposals from hospitals or health-care organizations.

“The state’s intent is to control frivolous use of resources,” Siemers said. “We’ll submit the application on Friday, [today] along with a lot of data as to why the lab is appropriate and why we would want offer it to the community.”

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