Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 30, 2012

Heart on wheels

KDMC gets new mobile unit for cardiac testing

ASHLAND — King’s Daughters Medical Center now has the “ultimate house-call machine,” thanks to the generosity of one of Ashland’s most industrious and philanthropic families.

On Thursday, KDMC dedicated its red mobile health unit, purchased via a donation from the Mansbach Foundation, and in memory of Samuel Mansbach and Donald H. Putnam Jr.

During their lifetimes, the men were instrumental in the establishment of the modern hospital and helped to further its mission to serve the greater community through a variety of outreach projects, according to KDMC CEO Fred Jackson.

Jackson said that “long history of support” has been continued by Gerald (Mansbach) and the Mansbach Foundation.

“We want to say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that support,’” Jackson said. “Without that support, we couldn’t do these projects.”

The new unit, one of three in KDMC’s mobile fleet, is the first to include specialized cardiac testing capabilities. The unit cost nearly $700,000, including a $440,000 custom-built coach constructed by Mobile Conversions of Amelia, Ohio, which the Mansbach Foundation’s donation covered. Medical equipment on board cost $250,000.

In addition to performing stress tests on patients with suspected cardiovascular disease, clinicians can conduct EKGs and echocardiograms, as well as look for vascular abnormalities in extremities and the main carotid artery.

It was KDMC cardiologist Dr. Richard E. Paulus who coined the term “regional house call” to describe outreach services the “ultimate house-call machine” will bring to areas far from KDMC’s Ashland campus.

“Within it contains some very modernistic capabilities to image our hearts and evaluate our vascular system. So it really is quite a mobile facility on wheels, but more than that are the people (KDMC employees) that are housed within it, and I have to say that has always been our greatest asset,” he said.

Debbie Arnett is one of those “assets,” whose passion is to take the services of KDMC into the region.

The outreach coordinator of cardiac imaging at KDMC showed the new mobile clinic to visitors on Thursday.

“We find pathology in patients every time we go out,” she said, adding patients are often “amazed” when the unit arrives in their towns, often far from a health care facility.

“They can’t believe that we are there,” she said. “It is very impressive to them.”  

On a typical day, Arnett said the unit will serve 15 to 20 patients, most of whom will receive free care. Last year, KDMC served more than 3,000 with its recently refurbished blue mobile unit. With the addition of the new red unit, as well as the mobile mammography unit, those numbers are expected to soar in the coming years.

 Arnett said all tests performed in mobile health units are reviewed by KDMC physicians and if anything abnormal is detected, patients are scheduled for follow-up care immediately.

“Doctors are on call for us, and if we find something, the patient goes directly to their office, typically the next day,” said Arnett, who has been at KDMC for 33 years.

“This will help serve the health care needs of our community and extended region by providing screenings and services to people who may not have sought care otherwise; therefore, lives can and will be saved,” said KDMC cardiologist Dr. Tina Sias.

The idea, she said, is to reach patients before they have a significant medical episode such as a heart attack or stroke.

“When people present with an emergency, obviously their mortality rate is going to be higher than if they could obtain preventive services to prevent that heart attack,” Sias explained.

Lori Moore, the daughter of Samuel Mansbach, toured the new unit following the ceremony.

“People in eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio are lacking in health care. That is not in doubt; they are arguing about that right now in Washington,” she said. “This is a needed service and I’m just glad that our foundation had the funds to be able to support it.”

“I think that health is the most important thing,” added her daughter, Amy Robinette, Samuel’s granddaughter.

“If they don’t have their health, they really don’t have anything else to contribute to the community, so in a way we are giving back to them so they can give back as well.”

 KDMC’s mobile health unit program began in 1995, serving communities in a 100-mile-plus radius, including 15 eastern Kentucky counties and four in southeast Ohio.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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