The number one cause of death in Northeast Texas is heart disease. In the past, the number one reason for transfer from Titus Regional Medical Center to another facility outside of our community was heart care. Studies have shown that the level of damage to the heart muscle is partially determined by the amount of time it takes from injury to treatment. The care of local patients who might not have time to make those transfers led the leadership at TRMC to make changes to the way they care for heart patients.
In 2016 Titus Regional Medical Center decided to invest in a robust cardiac care program that resulted in opening the doors to its state-of-the-science cardiac catheterization lab. Before this addition at TRMC, the nearest heart attack receiving center was approximately 60 miles away in any direction. Today, hundreds of people have had a life-saving cardiac catheterization procedure at Titus Regional Medical Center. Data shows the positive outcomes TRMC has experienced, but the personal stories of these patients are what make heart care at Titus such a vital part of how they serve our community and beyond.
Sue Sandlin started August 13, 2018 much like any other day. She had errands to run that morning for a trip she and her husband were leaving on the next day. That night she began to feel some chest pain. She assumed that it was just heart burn, so she took some over the counter heart burn reliever and then went to bed. When she woke up around 2 am from the pain, she calmly convinced herself that she could not be having a heart attack. Sue had recently undergone surgery and all of her pre-surgery tests came back with good results. So she took more heartburn medication and went back to bed.
The next morning she woke up feeling alarmed that the pain had not subsided. She told her husband, Joe Sandlin, Sr., that she thought she may be experiencing a heart attack. Mr. Sandlin immediately drove Mrs. Sandlin to Titus Regional Medical Center Emergency Department where they confirmed her fear.
“They told me that they were going to do a heart catheterization on me to find where the blockage was and if they could open it they would put a stent in,” said Sue Sandlin, “every member of the team pulled down their masks and introduced themselves. As a patient that was so comforting to know that it’s not just a pair of eyes you are looking at. They all have names and they care about you.”
Mrs. Sandlin was immediately taken to the cardiac catheterization lab where Dr. Stephen Sigal, Cardiologist, and his highly skilled cardiac catheterization team performed a minimally invasive surgery to unblock Mrs. Sandlin’s artery and save her life.
“The care you get right here in Titus County is just wonderful. The skill and the care you will get at Titus Regional means a great deal to this community,” said Sue Sandlin.
Stories like this are driving TRMC to continue to grow and add to their line of services offered in Mt. Pleasant. They now have three full time cardiologists on active staff, Dr. Aamer Abbas, Dr. Milan Sekulic, and Dr. Stephen Sigal, who all live in Mt. Pleasant. Unlike some rural hospitals, these doctors don’t visit, they live here, shop here and are a part of our community with their families. This also allows TRMC to have 24 hour heart attack care 365 days a year. Now, transfer is not the only option for those experiencing a heart attack in Mt. Pleasant and our surrounding communities.
In 2019, heart care at TRMC will see even more growth. The Heart and Vascular Clinic will become the Heart and Vascular Institute at Titus. As an institute, they will be treating patients, performing procedures in the catheterization lab, expanding vascular services, providing education to students and conducting research to improve care for our community. This dedicated group of doctors are working with the administration at Titus Regional to offer the best care possible right here at home.
Titus Regional Medical Center’s primary goal is to change the health of our community. This means recognizing the issues that affect those who live and work here and offering procedures such as the cardiac catheterization, that will allow our neighbors to receive the care they need close to home. It also means raising awareness of health risks, such as heart disease and offering patients ways to minimize those risks. The Heart and Vascular Institute at Titus team has participated in multiple health fairs this year where they conducted a cardiovascular risk assessment that helped identify if a patient was at risk for developing heart disease within the next 10 years. They also offer a coronary calcium score, a minimally invasive CT Scan that identifies calcium buildup in the arteries that lead to blockages. The ultimate goal is not just to save lives, but to prevent heart disease before it ever develops.
Titus Regional Medical Center is proud of the advances in heart care offered in Mt. Pleasant. They look forward to continuing to grow and offer life changing and life-saving healthcare to our entire community.
To watch Sue Sandlin’s story, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9LzIK-TNc4.