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Hospital pioneers heart study

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October 11, 2005

Thomasville, Georgia-- A new study allows doctors at Archbold Hospital in Thomasville to clear blockages in people's hearts without having to operate. That prevents patients in rural areas from having to go to hospitals in bigger cities such as Albany or Tallahassee.

Doctor William Ellis is preparing to put a catheter in a heart patient. "It's a very tense moment many times," he says.

Ellis is also preparing to pioneer a new heart study Archbold was selected to pilot out of 36 other hospitals in Georgia. "It's mechanical plumbing," says Ellis. The C Port two study is tailored to elective patients with heart disease that aren't considered an emergency. "This would allow hospitals like ours, nine others in Georgia that were selected to do, put a catheter in a blood vessel that goes to the heart and isolate that blood vessel with a balloon and then put a stint in there to hold that blood vessel open," says Archbold President, Dr. James Story.

Georgia currently allows that procedure only in hospitals that perform cardiac surgery, a rarity in most rural areas. "Therefore, a lot of patients don't have access to this procedure because it needs to be done within a certain period of time," says Story.

About 60 percent of patients who need it can't get it. But it won't be much longer until they can. "It usually takes about three months of going over protocol and coming down to do site visits," says Story. That's well worth the wait for a procedure with far less risks than open heart surgery. "It's a win-win situation for everyone, but particularly our patients," says Story. "You're swapping a band-aid for a sternal incision many times. It's tremendously beneficial," adds Ellis. Especially for people with coronary disease, the number one killer of heart patients.

The study is such an investment, Archbold has designated several operating rooms for it in a new wing that's being built. Each one costs more than one-point-two million dollars.

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