Providence St. Mary Medical Center urges residents to get the care they need, when they need it

By Staff Reports

(Apple Valley)– Covid-19 has hit our High Desert community hard this holiday season and Providence St. Mary Medical Center’s response to the month-long deluge of very ill patients has earned national attention.

But now more than ever, we encourage residents to get the help they need for all serious illnesses and injuries. Quality will not waver when treating heart attack, stroke and other emergencies, unrelated to the coronavirus.

One day earlier this month, St. Mary had two such emergency patients arrive by ambulance. For these patients, minutes mattered.

The first patient, a 48-year-old man, was suffering severe chest pain, a symptom that never should be ignored. Treatment began immediately, starting with an electrocardiogram performed just 3 minutes after he arrived. The test, which records the electrical signal that makes the heart beat, showed the patient was suffering a severe heart attack. His care team initiated a Code STEMI — ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction – which occurs when one of the heart’s major arteries that carry oxygen and blood to the heart muscle is blocked.

The St. Mary STEMI team was at the patient’s bedside within 5 minutes, and the cardiologist arrived within 16 minutes of the call. The patient was taken to the Cath Lab, where interventions and further testing are conducted. A short time later the blockage had been removed and within just a few days the man was discharged home for the holidays.

The very same day another patient in crisis, a 68-year-old man, came in with stroke symptoms – increased weakness, particularly on the left side. 

Code Stroke was called and an emergency department physician was examining his patient within one minute. Scans of his head were conducted within 6 minutes (the goal is 15 minutes) and the results showed two arteries were completely obstructed and blood flow was at an increased level in a third.

The patient required transfer to higher level of care for neurological intervention, and was taken by helicopter to Loma Linda University Medical Center. The entire emergency process took less than an hour-and-a-half, compared to the American Heart Association’s goal to transfer within two hours.

Had either of these men delayed care, they likely would have suffered severe complications, possibly death. At St. Mary, all efforts are made to separate patients who have contracted COVID-19 from the general hospital population to ensure safety. 

Emergency services continue to be available. Health officials do suggest those with less serious injuries or illnesses visit urgent care centers or talk with their primary care doctors to avoid waiting in the hospital emergency department. But for any health concerns, please don’t delay care. It could save your life. 

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