Good Samaritan's Dayson Heart Center Celebrates 30th Anniversary Since the Opening of the Cardiac Catherization Lab

In February of 2018, Good Samaritan’s Dayson Heart Center celebrated its 30th anniversary since the opening of their Cardiac Cath Lab. The history shared about the development of the cardiac unit is vast, detailing the years of major developments and purchases of new technology. But the one thing that is missing, is the story of how the Cath Lab came to be. Those who were there behind-the-scenes working to bring a new era of cardiac care to the community take a moment to sit down and share their story on how the Dayson Heart Center became what it is today.

When Good Samaritan Hospital opened its doors in 1908, the founders had dreams of what the institution would become. Although many departments and services were added throughout the years, it was not until 1967 that the late Dr. Louie Dayson, an internist that practiced non-invasive cardiology, approached the board of directors with a proposal for a four-bed cardiac care unit within the hospital. Dr. Dayson’s proposal, coupled with his tenacious personality, led to the approval of a cardiac unit.

The unit took off and many patients were being seen for stress testing, pacemaker operations and cardiac rehab. Still, however, many patients who needed to receive a cardiac catherization, an invasive procedure that lets physicians “see” how well the heart is working, were being sent to Evansville. Dr. Dayson once again took the initiative and quickly went to work in finding a way to build a Cath Lab at Good Samaritan. He recruited the help of his colleague and friend, Dr. Philip Watson, who came to Good Samaritan in 1983 and practiced pulmonary intensive medicine. Struggling to recruit a cardiologist with no success, the two came up with the plan to send Dr. Watson to training to become a board certified interventional cardiologist at the then Chicago Osteopathic Hospital Systems.

It was in Chicago that Dr. Watson met another resident, Dr. Philip Bacidore, who he convinced to join him at Good Samaritan. Dr. Watson knew there needed to be two cardiologists at the hospital because of the already growing number of patients being seen. “I had already worked at Good Samaritan as a pulmonologist for three years,” said Dr. Watson. “I had insight to the potential and Bacidore had pure faith.”

“I knew there was a need and an opportunity,” added Dr. Bacidore. “My aspirations in school were to practice medicine in a larger city, but I knew there was a need here in this community and a challenge. We were one of the early breeds of going into fellowship training and coming out as cardiologists.”

With the physicians in place, it was now up to all three men to make sure a Cath Lab was built. Dr. Dayson handled most of the planning behind the scenes explaining to the community and to the board the importance of a cath lab. During this time, many people did not understand what a cath lab was and some even considered it dangerous. But Dr. Dayson and his “boys” as he liked to call them, were determined to see their plan through, and in February of 1988, a Cath Lab was opened at Good Samaritan.

In addition to the cath lab, the group also brought in echocardiography and were the first in the state to have a cardiac cath angiography suite without open heart surgery back up, which was accepted at the time and used for diagnostic purposes. “It all started to grow and come together at the same time,” said Dr. Bacidore. “The cath lab was just a piece of the cardiology puzzle.”

Drs. Bacidore and Watson took over clinical cardiology, while Dr. Dayson continued to see patients for stress testing and other outpatient visits. “As we expanded cardiology services, the image of the institution rose to another level,” said Dr. Watson. “Bringing cardiology services to the hospital helped to start the beginning of critical care medicine.”

Critical care was badly needed at Good Samaritan at the time due to sicker patients arriving at the hospital; some of which were being placed on ventilators. The hospital was able to keep and treat more ill patients, but during this era of no hospitalist physicians, all patients were being seen by both Dr. Watson and Dr. Bacidore. “Both of them would work all day and all night, plus they would be on call,” said Julie Thomas, Director of Dayson Heart Center, who started her career in 1976 as a Coronary Care Nurse. “If anyone was sick in the hospital they would call Dr. Bacidore and Dr. Watson. They did everything together and even helped each other perform procedures.”

Throughout the years of growth and development, the group has seen many changes. Patients who had suffered a heart attack used to have to stay in the hospital for weeks, most of that time spent in bed. “In the beginning we used x-ray film to see where to place a stent that had to be developed in a dark room while the patient was laying on the table,” said Perry Snyder, Cath Lab Manager. “Today, everything is digital and as soon as an image is taken, it is automatically uploaded to a screen in the cath lab for the physician to see.”

The first type of stent used was made of bare metal. These stents mostly eliminated the risk of the artery collapsing, but had a risk of closing again, usually in six months time. “We performed our first percutaneous coronary intervention in 1993,” said Dr. Watson. “At that time, the incident of reocclusion, or reoccurrence of artery collapse, within three to six months was 30%. Now it is less than 5%. It is just a dramatic change.”

“Technology has evolved and we have evolved with it,” added Dr. Bacidore. “We have kept up with the different ways of doing things and have always had the most state-of-the-art equipment.”

One major accomplishment that the Dayson Heart Center has continuously surpassed other organizations in is their door to balloon time. This key performance quality measure from the American Heart Association recommends that the blocked artery in a patient be reopened within 60 minutes for best patient outcomes. Good Samaritan began monitoring their door to balloon time before it was even required by the American College of Cardiology. In 2006, the hospital’s door to balloon time was 137.4 minutes, about two and a half hours. The time has decreased tremendously over the years and in 2018, the average door to balloon time for Good Samaritan was 55.9 minutes. With the addition of advanced technology and training, ambulance services can now perform EKG’s in the field and mobilize the patient before they even enter the emergency room, saving precious time for patients who have suffered a heart attack.

“We have stayed up-to-date with everything we do,” said Thomas. “We haven’t let the dust settle under our feet and have worked hard to provide the best care to our community.”

“We have great relationships with our larger, neighboring institutions. We don’t have to do open heart surgery here because of the huge increase in interventional and preventative medicine. If a patient comes to us needing more advanced care, we have trust in those partnerships that our patients will be taken care of,” added Dr. Bacidore.

Among the tales of the past and laughter shared among these friends as they reminisce on old stories, they also look to the future of cardiac care at Good Samaritan. “The ground work has been laid for the next 30 years,” said Snyder. “The addition of the hybrid cath lab will be huge for our future. This will grow. The foresight of Julie, Dr. Bacidore and Dr. Watson to see the need in this community will help us tremendously going forward.”

“The future of the Dayson Heart Center is stability,” added Dr. Bacidore. “We want to make sure we excel in what we know how to do.”

“Quality community cardiac care,” said Dr. Watson. “We want to always provide quality care while staying in the means of a community hospital.”

The dedication and legacy of both physicians can be heard in their voices as they describe their work over the past 30 years. “There is a reason they get up every morning,” said Thomas. “They cared enough to make a difference and they did something that was great for this community. Dr. Dayson had the vision and these two put in the work.”

With the addition of Dr. Vikash Khurana, and more recently, Dr. Abigail Qin-Nelson, the future looks bright for the Dayson Heart Center. If and when Dr. Watson and Dr. Bacidore decide to retire, the reigns will be handed over and a new era of cardiology will begin. “When we recruited our new physicians, we told them we were looking for people who have the same passion for the program as we do,” said Thomas. “We are moving in the right direction. It will look different, but at the very core, we hope they have the same heart and passion for this department as we have.”

“We dedicated ourselves to the community,” said Dr. Watson. “I hope people remember me for my dedication to patient care.”

“This is our program,” added Dr. Bacidore. “We have our heart in it, our soul; our blood sweat and tears. I am proud to be a part of this. I have seen it go from nothing to what it is today. We are still going strong and still have a great reputation. How many communities this size have a hospital like ours? Because of great leadership, we have built the best department that we could. It is still successful today and will be for many years to come.”

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