State of the Heart Results

With its recent national accreditation, MCMC’s Echocardiography Lab gets an official Seal of Approval.

When Larry Toll began feeling tightness in his chest around the first of this year, he chalked it up to the typically chilly The Dalles winter weather. When he was still feeling it a few weeks later, but this time in balmy Hawaii, he knew something was up besides the barometer.

Once he returned from his vacation, Toll made an appointment with his primary care provider. Jonathan Soffer, an adult nurse practitioner with MCMC Internal Medicine Associates, suspected a cardiac problem and ordered an echocardiogram to get a close-up look at how Toll’s heart was functioning.

VIDEO PROFILE: Jonathan Soffer, Nurse Practitioner

On the day of Toll’s appointment at MCMC | OHSU Cardiology at Water’s Edge, his “echo” study began at 1:45. It didn’t last long.

“I didn’t even finish the exam before they had determined I was a high-risk heart patient,” he says. “By 2:30 I already had an appointment at OHSU and a patient number.”

That study may have saved Toll’s life.

“Larry had a stress test with echocardiography, and before he was even finished our sonographer stopped the test and had me read the results immediately,” says Kevin Wei, MD, an MCMC | OHSU cardiologist who specializes in echocardiography. “He was really fortunate we were able to determine pretty quickly he was a very high-risk heart patient and get him scheduled for a procedure at OHSU. If his condition had gone undetected and he later had a heart attack, he probably wouldn’t have survived.”

Toll’s experience demonstrates just how beneficial it is for area residents to have local access to these advanced studies. The echocardiogram is one of the most important technologies available physicians for diagnosing and managing patients with suspected or known heart conditions.

An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of the heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.

Echocardiography has been offered at MCMC for several years, but the lab was upgraded and enhanced with the opening of the cardiology clinic at Water’s Edge. The lab recently earned a three-year national certification from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission, demonstrating its commitment to providing testing that meets or exceeds national quality standards.

Accreditation is considered the commission’s “seal of approval” for the quality of the echo lab’s personnel and testing procedures. According to the IAC it is also something “that patients can rely on as an indication that the facility has been carefully critiqued on all aspects of its operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of echocardiography.

“It’s a testament to the policies and procedures we have in place, the expertise of our staff and their commitment to ensure each of our patients has a high-quality exam and experience,” says Dr. Wei.

VIDEO PROFILE: Dr Kevin Wei, Cardiologist

That’s certainly what Larry Toll got. He had his echo exam April 9 and was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization procedure to clear blocked arteries at on April 10. After he arrived at OHSU, physicians determined his condition was too severe to make him a candidate for that procedure. Instead, Toll had bypass surgery. The next day.

“I’m still not really believing it all happened in a matter of less than three days,” says Toll, a retired state employee who was always active and, until then, in good health. “But everything went just fine. Dr. Wei told me I would be able to do everything I used to before my surgery, so I’ve played some golf and am pretty well back to normal.”

Toll says MCMC’s connection with OHSU not only ensured he has had high-quality care throughout his experience, but also has enjoyed the convenience of being able to get all his follow up care without having to go back to Portland.

“It worked out really well that I have been able to have all my post-op care in town,” he says.

It worked out pretty well that he was able to have his pre-op care here too.