Donor echoes fathers care for community
Health: Okotoks family donates echocardiogram to High River clinic
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Friday, Mar 22, 2013 01:18 pm
Inspired by the impact it had on their own grandson an Okotoks family stepped up to help bring a machine to the foothills critical in early detection of heart disease.
The family knows firsthand the relief an echocardiography (Echo) machine can bring when it finds nothing is wrong with a loved one’s heart.
“We had an infant grandson who had problems with low blood pressure and there was concerns about his heart,” said John Hartley. “This cardiologist came in with this portable machine, hooked it up and said: ‘This is a great heart.’ It was such a relief.”
Hartley was a main donor for the $125,000 machine, which was added to the Charles Clark Medical Centre in High River late last year. The official opening of the Hartley Echocardiography Suite at the medical centre was held March 21.
Hartley said through discussions with family friend, Dr. Ron Gorsche of High River, he discovered there was a need for an Echo in the areaWhat did patients have to do before this was in High River? .
Hartley said he and wife Lorrie talked about it and decided they wanted to help bring the machine to High River.
Medical care in the foothills has always been a cause the Hartley family has supported.
John’s father, Robert, who lived near Longview, established the Robert Hartley Rural Doctor Scholarship fund in the 1980s to encourage young physicians to come to smaller communities.
He also gave generously to the High River and District Health Care Foundation, which raises funds for medical care in the foothills.
Robert passed away approximately six years ago from cancer in a High River Hospital palliative care bed.
“He passed away before there was the Foothills (Country) Hospice,” Hartley said. “He was like a lot of people, he wanted to be taken care of close to home. I am so highly appreciative of the hospital and how caring they are here. I think sometimes people in High River forget what a great facility we have here.”
Cardiologist Dr. Greg Schnell, from Okotoks, estimated there have been approximately 300 tests performed on the Echo since it was brought to the clinic in November.
One of those tests was on health care foundation executive director Michael Brown, who volunteered to be hooked up to the machine for a demonstration on Thursday.
The Echo provides an ultrasound display of Brown’s heart. Schnell said Brown is in good shape — not a surprise because the executive director is an avid cross-country skier and cyclist.
However, Schnell then called up the heartbeat of a man in his 60s on to the screen. There has been some build-up in a valve and the heart is trying to pump blood through a hole continuing to get smaller.
“He’s a guy who is thin and looks fit, but your heart beats about 100,000 times a day so you can imagine the wear and tear on it after 65 years,” Schnell said. “Just think of the damage on your door’s hinges if you opened it up that many times a day.”
He said the man was typical of a lot of foothills residents. The patient wanted to be tested in High River rather than go to Calgary.
Schnell said the patient is at risk of a stroke, but with the help of the Echo he is now being treated.
The Echo machine will likely see greater use in the future as foothills residents get older, he said.
The Hartley Suite at the Charles Clark Medical Centre works closely with staff at the High River Hospital.
Echo technician Virginia Layton said a few opening are left on the schedule every day to accommodate emergency patients.