Cardiac clinic another option for GJ patients

Heather Reed, a registered cardiac sonographer, points out areas of a heart on the cardiac ultrasound machine to Gigi Classen in the ultrasound and stress test room at the Heart and Vascular Ceenter at Valley View, Grand Junction, located at 607 25 Road. Classen is the director of the center.

Valley View Hospital made a move west earlier this year, opening up a cardiovascular clinic in Grand Junction, and staff is saying the patients have responded.

The Glenwood Springs-based hospital opened the Heart and Vascular Center at Valley View, Grand Junction clinic about six months ago at 607 25 Road in an effort to give their regional patients a place to see a heart physician a little closer to home.

“The primary purpose for establishing ourselves in that market is to address needs of people who have arrhythmia,” said Dr. Frank Laws, medical director of Valley View’s heart and vascular center.

Staff who work at the clinic regularly said the response has been “overwhelming” so far, and that there are a lot of people hearing about it via word of mouth. “A lot of people walk in,” registered cardiac sonographer Heather Reed said. “They heard we are here and ask about our service.”

Laws visits the Grand Junction clinic one or two days a week while other physicians and medical staff keep it open five days per week.

Laws said since he was brought on to grow the hospital’s heart and vascular program 11 years ago, he’s seen patients travel in from all over the Western Slope and eastern Utah for care. Some traveled several hours to get there and he believed another site to see a heart doctor would be a benefit to those patients.

“It’s a bit unusual to find this in a hospital of our size. But when we got together, we felt that with the huge migrations from our patients, we felt it was important to receive care closer to home,” he said.

The clinic sees approximately 15 patients per day at the 4,000-square-foot facility. The site holds four exam rooms and other speciality rooms, but doesn’t perform large surgical procedures. Anyone who would need to go in for heart surgery would still go to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

In Grand Junction, patients can have work done on pacemakers or get an echocardiogram along with several other services that would keep their patients in town rather than going to Glenwood Springs, or all the way to other facilities in Denver or Salt Lake City.

Heart and Vascular Center at Valley View Grand Junction Director Gigi Classen said the clinic has been proactive in searching for patients, sending out mailers and visiting other clinics to let people know they are around. She said the clinic has received a great response from the community.

“Patients call, they hear about us and are excited we’re in the area,” Classen said. “We’ve taken self referrals. It’s exciting.”

Valley View has been expanding its outreach with other clinics mostly focused on primary care in places such as Silt, Meeker, Carbondale, Eagle and Rifle. Classen said heart physicians visit those clinics once or twice per month.

The hospital also expanded its vascular and heart program last November when it opened a hybrid bi-plane catheterization lab that allows doctors to perform less invasive procedures.

Laws said all of the moves are designed to bring better care to Valley View’s patients.

“I just feel that as we move forward as a group, our goal has always been driven by needs of patients,” Laws said.


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