Cath lab at Nason a win-win

Conemaugh Nason Medical Center’s new cardiac catheterization lab, which began offering services at the Roaring Spring-area hospital on Jan. 15, is a win-win for Blair County.

The new service further enhances Blair’s already-strong standing as a state-of-the-art medical destination.

And with the new service’s opening, other assets and enterprises of the county will benefit from the patients and the family members and others who will accompany the patients here.

One group of beneficiaries that comes to mind quickly is the places that sell gasoline. But those traveling here are likely to access numerous other available services.

Beyond that, those from outside the area who visit this county and learn more about its many amenities are likely to return when a medical reason for coming here isn’t at the forefront.

While UPMC Altoona’s cardiac catheterization facility will continue to perform the bulk of the procedures in Blair, the Nason service will provide a closer alternative for people living in that sector of the county. It also will be a shorter trip for patients from rural areas of Bedford and Huntingdon counties.

As a front-page article in the Jan. 15 Mirror reported, UPMC’s catheterization lab treats more than 4,000 patients annually, “currently making it the busiest in the region.”

Meanwhile, Nason’s lab is expected to treat about 370 patients its first year, with that patient load growing in subsequent years as its availability and quality of care become more widely known.

Jenn Shade, Conemaugh Nason cath lab manager, said the state-of-the-art technology that is available at the facility provides “crystal-clear images” at the highest image quality available.

Tim Harclerode, Conemaugh Nason CEO, was quoted in the Jan. 15 article as saying, “We are dedicated to growing services, and this is an example of that.”

Such a positive attitude exists at Tyrone Hospital, a general medical and surgical facility in northern Blair County, and at the Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Altoona (formerly Health South), both of which also help enhance Blair County’s reputation as a top-quality medical center.

In addition, as people of this county and beyond are well aware, Blair has the added benefit of having a veterans medical facility — the Van Zandt VA Medical Center — in Altoona, helping bring people in need of medical care here.

Meanwhile, there are many doctors’ offices and other medical facilities available to help meet patients’ needs.

Blair County is blessed in that regard, and the Nason catheterization lab adds another dimension to what’s available.

For people who might not be familiar with the cardiac-catheterization procedure, it involves a tiny tube called a catheter being inserted into a blood vessel so that imaging dyes and tiny equipment can be passed through.

That makes possible the examination of a patient’s heart and blood vessels and locate any blockages in arteries.

Heart valve function can be checked, blood flow can be measured and stents can be placed in arteries when they are narrow or blocked.

As Harclerode rightly pointed out, the catheterization services provided by Conemaugh Nason’s lab will save many lives, just like UPMC Altoona’s does on virtually a daily basis.

On the medical front, Jan. 15 was a special day for Blair County.