Facility News

Wheeling Hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab Marks 30th Anniversary From Stopping Heart Attacks to Implanting Pacemakers

In 1978, Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia, opened the region’s first cardiac catheterization lab. Thirty years and thousands of saved lives later, it remains a vital service for stopping chest pain and heart attacks. Today, Wheeling Hospital has the area's only interventional cardiac cath lab. Wheeling-based cardiologist Dr. Richard Terry, who started the lab, handled its first case and remains a vital member of the team. “For the first 16 years, we performed diagnostic catheterizations, but had to transport the patients to a Pittsburgh hospital for balloon angioplasty. This was particularly rough on the heart attack patients who were in immediate need of the procedure. But, that all changed in 1994 when we began performing the procedure here. Today, we’re the only hospital in the region that others send patients to for angioplasty,” said Terry. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in 30 years. Then and now, there always has been a team of doctors, nurses and x-ray technologists with one purpose in mind — saving lives. I’m very proud of them.” Cath Lab Manager Susie Fullerton, RN, said that last year the lab performed 1,186 diagnostic caths. Of that total, she reported that 381 needed non-emergency balloon angioplasty while 168 were emergency cases requiring the procedure. For emergency cases, the cath lab provides 24-hour service. “Acute heart attacks can come at any time. But we’re always ready. When it’s after business hours or on weekends, we have staff on-call. When we learn an emergency is headed our way, the team is alerted by pagers and it rushes to the lab, arriving in minutes, regardless of the weather,” said Dr. Robert Fanning, interventional cardiologist and director of the hospital’s cardiac services. “We’re proud of our dedicated team. But when you see them arrive at 3 am Christmas day or in the worst of rain or snowstorms, we are extra proud of them. It is comforting to know that if a heart attack occurs, there are people ready to help, 24 hours a day. Our staff knows people are counting on them.” Today, according to Fullerton, the cath lab does much more than diagnose and treat blocked arteries. She explained that last year the lab began performing electrophysiology (EP) studies, ablations and implanting pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators. In addition to Terry and Fanning, the cardiologists performing diagnostic procedures include: Drs. Chris Eskins, Adel Frenn, William Noble and John Wurtzbacher. Performing interventional procedures are Eskins, Fanning and Frenn. Dr. Maninder Bedi performs the EP procedures as well as pacemaker and defibrillator implants. He also performs transesophageal echocardiograms. The cath lab staff includes cath lab manager Fullerton, and RNs Amy Jewell, Sara Strahl, Connie Lilley, Ami Blanton, Bethann Brayer and Elizabeth Viviano. The x-ray technologists are Linda Hohman, Karen Bates, Jenna Linton and Denise Golden-Dunfee. Nancy DeLong is the lab secretary.