Gorge cardiologists make local history: New services now available at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital

June 11, 2012
Cardiac history is being made in the Columbia River Gorge as Providence cardiologists Kathy Grewe, M.D., and Robert Florek, M.D., complete a series of heart “firsts.” Since their arrival in February, Dr. Grewe and Dr. Florek have successfully performed two different procedures – all first-time events for Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.            

Within three months, Florek implanted the first cardioverter defibrillator and the first pacemaker at Providence Hood River.

Many people are familiar with a pacemaker, a device used to help or replace the natural pacemaker function of the heart. It sends out small electrical impulses that cause the heart muscle to contract when the heart is beating too slowly.

An implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, is a small electronic device implanted to prevent sudden cardiac arrest due to abnormally fast or disorganized heart rhythms. When the heart is beating normally, the device simply monitors the rhythm. If the heart develops a life-threatening rhythm disturbance, the ICD automatically delivers an electrical "pulse" to the heart to return the heart rhythm to normal.  

Both pacemakers and ICDs require a minor surgical procedure and an overnight hospital stay. The operating rooms at Providence Hood River are now equipped for these procedures.

The devices come with a transmitter that allows for regular monitoring of the device and heart rhythms from anywhere – just by using a telephone. During follow-up appointments at the Providence pacemaker/defibrillator clinic, Dr. Florek checks the function and the battery life of the device. When the battery runs low, the device's generator can be replaced during a simple outpatient procedure.

“The ability to provide local access to these lifesaving technologies is great for our patients”, said Dr. Florek. “Many patients will no longer need to travel to Portland to have echocardiograms, or cardiac devices inserted and maintained”.

To schedule an appointment at the Columbia Gorge Heart Clinic, please call 541-387-6125.