Cardiac Care in Medicine Hat

“Eighty per cent of cardiac arrests or more happen in your own home, and it’s not going to be a stranger. It’s going to be a loved one.” – Dr. Christian Vaillancourt, Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa

In a recent report, the Heart and Stroke Foundation estimated that about 60,000 cardiac arrests happen each year in Canada.

With numbers that high, commented Dr. Christian Vaillancourt – a University of Ottawa professor of emergency medicine – about 80% of these events are likely to happen in or around your home.

Due to this, and even with all the power of modern medicine, only one of every ten cardiac arrest patients is expected to survive. These traumatic events impact not just a person, but their whole family and community. But what can be done to help?

As it turns out, the biggest difference also starts at home: investing in local cardiac care.

What Does Medicine Hat Have for Cardiac Care?

Here in southeastern Alberta, the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital is a vital healthcare hub serving over 110,000 people. Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to provide essential services, but are now facing challenges from outdated equipment that will soon need replacement.

The cardiac monitors

Some of the most important diagnostics that healthcare staff have are those involving the heart and the lungs. These two body systems must be kept functioning before anything else, and this means they’re among the highest priorities to monitor for any patient in the hospital – not just those experiencing specific cardiac events.

So, at the core of our cardiac monitoring system are:
• approximately three dozen bedside monitors within the hospital
• remote telemetry units and receivers that enhance portability and different use cases
• an emergency LifePak that can resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest

The bedside monitors keep a close watch on pulse, respiration, heart rhythm, oxygenation, and blood pressure. The smaller portable units can be deployed quickly to monitor the most important stats, like heart rate and rhythm. When there’s a problem, they can notify doctors and nurses before the patient is even aware of the problem – making these units quite literally lifesavers!

Here’s where it gets a bit complicated: even though these monitors may be working today, there’s no guarantee that they will tomorrow. In our case, they’re no longer serviced by the manufacturer. This means that when these crucial devices break or malfunction, they cannot be repaired again. Since they are tools that are used constantly by healthcare staff, every single day across multiple departments, this could very quickly lead to tragedy.

Understanding the urgency

You may be asking the obvious question: if the monitors still work, why has the manufacturer stopped its support?

The answer is a familiar one in the world of technology. Just like a cutting-edge phone or PC, newer models of cardiac monitors offer more capabilities. After a certain period of time, all manufacturers choose to put their resources toward the future rather than the past. The latest models also integrate with Connect Care, the new Alberta Health Services digital database. This alone makes it necessary to upgrade soon, as it will increase the efficiency and accuracy of patient data sharing across different provincial health facilities.

What About Provincial Funding?

There are always challenges in getting the money needed for important health equipment. Understandably, a lot of people wonder why the province isn’t “footing the bill”, or why the Foundation relies on donations to fill in the gaps. The truth is that we all work together as partners, and it’s important to know how the system works.

Provincial funding cycles

Due to the way provincial budgets are made and distributed each year, the money for Alberta healthcare comes in funding cycles. Unfortunately, health needs don’t always split up into neat, tidy boxes on a spreadsheet! So, despite the best data analysis and collaborative efforts, this budget may not always be enough.

Provincial budgets also follow specific timelines, leaving hospitals and other facilities vulnerable to unexpected needs that come up between these cycles. Changes in the community, like more people or critical new health priorities (such as pandemics), mean that predictions can fall short of reality. Then it can be difficult for hospitals to get everything they need. They must find other ways to make up that gap, and that’s where we step in.

The role of health foundations

When the regular budget falls short or doesn’t match the growing needs, the non-profit foundations take the reins. The MHHF is just one of many foundations spread across Canada, making sure the hospitals and health facilities in their respective regions have what they need to keep up with the community’s health demands.

Is the approach perfect? No, but nothing is. It is effective, though, under the reality of funding within a whole provincial budget. In fact, health foundations like ours have always made big impacts and rallied major support for local healthcare.

Past Success Stories: Your Impact with MHHF

Just in the last few years, we’ve seen the support and generosity of the community come through to deliver on our greatest needs. Each of these areas would have been covered by provincial health funding eventually, but our selfless donors made it happen much faster.

• The OBIX Prenatal Monitoring Campaign
In 2022, we reached out for help in upgrading our prenatal monitoring capabilities. We wanted local mommies-to-be to have access to better tools for healthy pregnancies and births. Thanks to the efforts of our donors, we went from old paper printouts and limited on-site access to digital data, immediate remote specialist opinions, and integration with the new Connect Care cloud system.

• The Hana Orthopedic Surgery Bed
Surgery on hips and thighs can be done on traditional operating tables, but the Hana bed is specially designed for this type of procedure. It offers better access, manoeuverability, and placement for patients and surgeons. This in turn leads to much easier surgeries, vastly improved recovery times, and a faster return home for our post-op patients.

• Mental Health Space and Resources
From 2020 onward, we have been devoting substantial time and resources to increasing our capabilities for mental health treatment. This includes new spaces, renovations, furniture, items, and other necessities needed to help anyone of any age. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have systematically reached and surpassed these goals, providing more light and hope for everyone who comes through our doors in search of a safe space.

Thanks to past support like this, we’re optimistic for what the future holds – for our cardiac care and for anything else. Our community’s dedication to healthcare seems to overcome any obstacle, and every time we have called out for help, you have delivered with grace and generosity. It’s just one of the many reasons we’re proud to call Medicine Hat home!

Connect With the MHHF

Want to stay informed and contribute to the evolving landscape of healthcare in the Hat? We invite you to follow us online and connect with us through our channels and newsletter. It’s an easy way to shape the future of our community.

Ways to Connect:

Together, let’s get healthier hearts and a better tomorrow for Medicine Hat