The Growth of Cardiology Services for a Heart Healthy Community

Back in the 1960s, those who suffered a heart attack had nearly a one in three chance of surviving. If they suffered a heart attack in Vincennes during that time they had to be taken nearly an hour away to get specialized care. Today, because of a vision by Dr. Louie O. Dayson, residents of Knox and surrounding communities can receive the most advanced heart care right here in Vincennes at Good Samaritan’s Dayson Heart Center.

February is American Heart Month and Good Samaritan is celebrating by remembering the history of the Dayson Heart Center. During the summer of 1967, to help decrease the mortality rate from heart attack, Dr. Dayson approached the hospital’s board of governors with a proposal of creating a four-bed cardiac care unit within the hospital’s intensive care ward – primarily focused on providing EKGs and pacemakers.

As the cardiology program developed, it soon became obvious that some sort of rehabilitation program was needed to strengthen a cardiac patient’s damaged heart. This would be a landmark endeavor for the hospital and for this part of the state. “Dr. Dayson was responsible for bringing the first cardiac rehab to southern Indiana,” stated Julie Thomas, Director of the Dayson Heart Center. The cardiac rehabilitation program began in November of 1975 and is still going strong today with an average of 1,690 patients a year.

The year 1988 was a revolutionary one for the then named Good Samaritan Heart Center. That February the hospital opened its first cardiac catheterization lab. Cardiac catheterization procedures can confirm the presence of heart disease, evaluate how well the heart is functioning and help determine the next course of treatment.

Seeing the growth of the cardiac unit, Dr. Dayson realized the need to recruit more cardiologists to help see through his vision of providing advanced cardiology services to our community. Two of those physicians who were brought on to grow this ever-changing cardiology service line are still practicing at Good Samaritan today – Dr. Philip Watson and Dr. Philip Bacidore.

In July of 2004, the Good Samaritan Heart Center was renamed the Dayson Heart Center in honor of the man who worked so hard, for so long to develop it.

Dayson’s vision has now blossomed to the Dayson Heart Center becoming a heart hospital within a hospital. “We are proud to offer our community a comprehensive heart center focused on the prevention, detection, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases,” stated Rob McLin, President and CEO of Good Samaritan. “Our progression of cardiology care is evident by our numbers of over 23,000 cardiac diagnostic procedures a year, a patient satisfaction rate of 99% and, the biggest, is that the time it takes our cardiology team to unblock coronary arteries is 34 minutes faster than the national goal.”

Within a brand-new facility, the center offers state-of-the-art technology, including two cardiac cath labs, and the combined years of experience represented by the staff and cardiologists equals 778 years. Now joining Drs. Watson and Bacidore to the cardiologist team are Drs. Ali Ayoubi and Vikash Khurana.

Also, in celebration of American Heart Month, Good Samaritan is providing multiple free heart health screening opportunities. Over time, prevention has been a growing factor in the determination of one’s likelihood of having heart disease. “In the 70’s and 80’s, we first saw patients after they had suffered a heart attack and we diagnosed and treated,” stated Thomas. “At the Dayson Heart Center today, we focus as much on the prevention as we do diagnosis and treatment. Through health screenings, patients get to “Know Their Numbers” and can control their risk factors for developing heart disease.”

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, killing nearly 129,000 people in the US each year. Because 80% of strokes are preventable, participating in stroke screenings is vital to knowing one’s risk for stroke. Good Samaritan will be offering free stroke screenings on Tuesday, February 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Eva Hill Auditorium. The free screening includes atrial fibrillation, lipid profile, carotid bruit, body mass index and blood pressure test. A lifestyle assessment and wellness counseling with a registered nurse is also included. Appointments for this screening event are required.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a common, yet serious, disease that raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. The disease that clogs arteries in the legs affects eight to twelve million people in the US, especially those over the age of 50. Good Samaritan’s Community Health Services will be offering free PAD screenings on Thursday, February 4 and Friday, February 5 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. at Community Health Services, located at the corner of Dubois and S. 7th streets in Vincennes. Appointments are required for this painless 20-minute doppler procedure.

For more information or to make an appointment for a free stroke or PAD screening, call Community Health Services at 812-885-8753.

According to the American Heart Association, high cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for heart disease. With proper lifestyle changes, screenings and medications, a person’s cholesterol can be managed and their risk of heart disease can be lowered. This is why full lipid profiles (cholesterol) screenings are performed throughout the year by Community Health Services. “When someone has high cholesterol it may put them at greater risk for heart disease and can also increase the risk of having a stroke. The lipid profile screening is just one of the components that may determine one’s risk of heart disease and stroke,” stated Cathy Lindsey, Community Health Coordinator. A full event calendar with all of the screenings Community Health will be performing can be found on Good Samaritan’s website at

In the event that a patient receives an abnormal reading on one of their screenings or needs to see one of the cardiology physicians in the future, there is an upcoming opportunity to visit the new Dayson Heart Center and meet the center’s four board-certified cardiac physicians. On February 24, Dayson Heart Center will host an open house from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in celebration of American Heart Month, everyone is invited to tour the cardiology clinic, cath lab and cardiac rehab, meet and speak with the cardiologists, taste heart healthy appetizers and receive free giveaways. All are welcome to attend.

For more information about Dayson Heart Center, the free screening opportunities and to take quizzes to learn more about your heart health, please visit

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