A gift of life

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After having her life saved, Trish Oman works with Riverview Hospital to provide state-of-the-art equipment

For the past 15 years, Trish Oman has served as Riverview Hospital Foundation executive director, but her connection with the hospital began on Feb. 5, 1956. Born two months premature, Oman weighed just 3 pounds, 6 and three-fourths ounces, and measured 16 inches in length. One month into her life, Oman grew to 5 pounds, 5 ounces, then to 6 ounces, 10 pounds at two months and 9 pounds, 8 ounces and 23 inches in length by her third month.

“I fought for my life for six weeks,” she said. “Riverview saved my life.”

Framed in Oman’s office are two old hospital bills from her childhood – a $35 tonsils removal charge and the hospital bill of $64.75 for medicine, anesthesia, hospital stay and lab and operating room fees.

“A nurse told me my office could be where my mother delivered me,” said Oman. “I have a rich heritage here. It has come full circle.”

Riverview was the hospital that delivered her and her siblings, niece and nephew. Her grandmother, Grandma Pat, worked as a nurse for 30 years at Riverview and Oman fondly remembers coming to the hospital for Sunday lunches.

“There’s not a time I don’t think about her when I walk down that back hallway,” she said.

Unfortunately, Riverview isn’t full of all good memories as both Grandma Pat (heart attack) and Oman’s mother (melanoma) spent their final days at the county hospital.
“I knew Riverview was a special place and I’ve experienced that. My passion for what we do grew even more with what I went through here,” Oman said.

Now 56 years old, Oman is healthy and working with the foundation to ensure the hospital remains one of the best in the state. The Riverview Hospital Foundation is finishing up its $4 million fundraising efforts from purchasing a 128-slice CT scanner and catheterization lab.

“That’s our sole purpose – to make a difference in patient’s lives, in the community. We feel we can help provide education and awareness within the community,” said Oman. “It’s my passion to make a difference in people’s lives.”

After having her own heart scan, Oman discovered a surprise – her “double heart.” While viewing the scan, Oman noticed one of her chambers was shaped like a heart.

“I was surprised. I said, ‘Look at my heart,’” she said.

Diagnostic Radiologist Richard Hallett, M.D., explained he had never seen anything like Oman’s scan before.

“It was surprising,” he said. “She was looking at the forest when I was looking at the trees. She was right on it.”

The CT scanner is revolutionizing non-invasive diagnosis. The machine can scan the whole body in seconds and provide incredibly sharp 3-D images of any organ. To doctors, Hallett said the images provide more than 1,000 words. The new technology provides the first clear, non-invasive images of the heart and its major vessels. It delivers non-superimposed, cross-sectional images of the body, which can show smaller contrast differences than conventional X-ray images. The scans can also be timed to use only images gathered between contractions, so the heart and its vessels can be seen without the blurring caused by motion.

“You can see the image in a quarter of a second,” said Hallett, adding the scanner also allows for less radiation and X-ray dye. “That really has been one big thing … It’s outstanding.”

This equipment can be used for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The speed and precision of the scanner not only improves the image quality, but also allows physicians to look at dynamic processes. This can provide an early view of how a patient is responding to therapy.

In addition to the quality of its images, the new CT scanner is changing the face of diagnosis. The scanner’s ability to quickly and non-invasively spot small tumors, in a check on the lungs for example, or plaque in the case of cardiovascular disease, is making it the preferred option for diagnosis by an increasing number of physicians.

Sarah Estell, director of marketing at Riverview, said the new equipment is changing how physicians diagnose patients. With vascular procedures, the old way used ultrasound imaging, which only gave pictures of the outside of vessels and veins. The new equipment allows images of the inside of vessels and veins.

“It’s opened up a whole other area to utilize equipment … It shows how quick medical equipment changes and technology comes,” she said, adding patients with vascular diseases do not show a lot of symptoms. “It’s such a silent disease.”

Oman said the foundation purchased the CT scanner in October 2010 and the catheterization lab in May 2008. The new technology combines the two to better serve doctors and patients.

“Having state of the art equipment is crucial for hospitals to provide the care the community deserves, but the equipment needs to be in the right hands,” said Estell. “We have an extraordinary group of physicians and doctors. We’re blessed by both of them here.”

Through the month of February, Riverview Hospital is offering a $99 Love Your Heart comprehensive screening. The package includes a CT calcium heart scan, baseline electrocardiogram, vascular screening (peripheral artery disease, carotid and abdominal aortic aneurysm), consultation with a cardiac nurse and a coupon for $15 blood chemistry profile. To schedule a screening, call 776-7247.

Estell said the response to the hospital’s heart scans has been “phenomenal.”

“The number of people coming to Riverview – education and awareness – it’s been a great benefit,” she said. “We have a great hospital here. It’s a tremendous asset to the community, located in the heart of the county and it’s so alive. If you need it, it’s great to know it’s right here.”

 

By Robert Herrington
robert@youarecurrent.com

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