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When he felt one leg going numb as he was barbecuing dinner Kamiah resident Fred Baldwin suspected something was wrong, but wasn’t quite sure. After making his way into the house, his wife took one look and called 911. The ambulance delivered him to Clearwater Valley Hospital that evening, December 16th, 2010. CVHC and St. Mary’s Hospital began partnering 13 years ago. Both offer the same range of services.
“I was not expecting a stroke so it was a total surprise. Fourteen years ago I had coronary bypass surgery on six arteries. I never had a heart attack, but was having pain in my back after my gym workouts. After a stress EKG and an angiogram I was scheduled for bypass surgery, but have been good-to-go since then,” said Baldwin, who lived in southern Idaho at the time.
He was released from the hospital after three days, but his doctor set up an appointment for a follow up echocardiogram and ultrasound. Echocardiography uses sound waves to create pictures to examine the structures and function of the heart. Another form of echo, the Doppler ultrasound, shows how well blood flows through the chambers and valves.
“The echo technician really knew what he was doing. He had great bedside manner and was very considerate. My doctor reported that my echo showed everything is fine and my heart is pumping like it should,” said Baldwin, who also has a February appointment with a Spokane based cardiologist through CVHC’s Orofino clinic. “My wife took me to Clearwater Valley Hospital for the echo because I was told not to drive until everything was checked out. She appreciated the convenience of the closer location even more than I since I am retired and she is still working. She had to take less time off.” Visiting cardiologists also have regular hours at SMHC’s Cottonwood clinic each month.
SMHC and CVHC contract with Gritman Medical Center in Moscow for echo services. Brian Mergen, RCS, is in Cottonwood every Thursday and in Orofino every Tuesday. He is a Registered Cardiac Sonographer who received his initial training at Spokane Community College. At the time it was the only program of its kind in the country. He completed his internship at the University of Washington Medical Center and worked in Spokane for 27 years prior to his move to this area. “My first job as an echocardiographer was at the UW Medical Center which is one of the most prestigious labs in the country,” said Mergen, who also performs pediatric echocardiography with newborns and young children. “In my 30 years of performing echocardiograms I estimate I have worked with roughly 30,000 patients.”
“Our goal is to provide every service possible locally so our patients don’t have the inconvenience of driving to distant locations for their healthcare services. Everyone likes to stay closer to home, family and friends no matter what their needs are. It is our responsibility to help make that happen,” said Casey Meza, CEO, CVHC/SMHC. “We have an excellent relationship with Gritman and appreciate their willingness to send a trained technician to both our facilities. We always receive positive feedback about the service and about their radiology staff.”
Baldwin, who will turn 66 in February, and his wife, Barbara, moved to Kamiah seven years ago after he semi-retired as a controller for a Nampa based business. In September he fully retired.
“Next time I have a stroke I hope to have better timing since we were set to go to Seattle for my daughter’s law school graduation. She graduated at the top of her class after attending law school at nights. I’m proud of her and my son who runs a computer business in Seattle,” said Baldwin. “Missing her graduation couldn’t be helped, but I’m glad I’ll be around for awhile longer.”