Mashburn went to the emergency department at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, where the patient care team began performing a series of tests and labs, all of which came back normal.
Still, Dr. Timothy Paul, a board-certified emergency physician with Carrollton Emergency Physicians and a member of the medical staff at Tanner Health System, knew something wasn’t right.
“Dr. Paul took me back and said that he’d like to go ahead and admit me so they could watch me for a while,” said Mashburn, who works as a residential developer and builder. “He said the tests were all OK, but he knew something was happening. He didn’t like my symptoms.”
As the staff began the process of admitting Mashburn to the hospital for observation, what Paul anticipated might happen did. Mashburn had a heart attack in one of the best possible places to have one: in an emergency department, in the care of a board-certified emergency physician, with a board-certified interventional cardiologist on his way to the hospital.
Mashburn recalled that he began to feel faint, and thought it was a side effect of some medication he had received. “I never blacked out, but I do remember feeling very faint,” Mashburn said.
The team worked quickly to get Mashburn prepped for angioplasty – a nonsurgical, invasive procedure that allows a cardiologist to thread a thin tube, called a catheter, through the coronary arteries to the site of the blockage that is causing the heart attack. A small balloon on the end of the catheter is used to clear the blockage and restore the flow of blood to the heart. Often, as was the case for Mashburn, a small tube of wire mesh is also placed at the site of the blockage to keep the artery open and reduce the risk of future blockages at the site.
Dr. Christopher Arant, a board-certified interventional cardiologist with Tanner Heart & Vascular Specialists, performed Mashburn’s angioplasty procedure.
“I didn’t realize I was having a heart attack,” said Mashburn. “I’ve always been blessed with very good health. They told me it was probably genetic – my father died fairly young from a heart attack.”
But, when he was having it, Mashburn said he was glad Tanner was there.
According to Paul, Mashburn’s story is surprisingly common among the cases he’s seen in the emergency department at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton.
“Emergency care is one of those things that everyone needs at some point – either for themselves or a loved one,” he said. “The more people there are to serve, the more important it is to have a first-rate emergency department in one’s community. Heart attacks, automobile accidents, trauma – how these things turn out, good or bad, often depends on having the resources to treat them effectively.”
This summer, Paul and his colleagues in the emergency department at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton will occupy a new emergency department, about three times as large as the current one and featuring twice as many patient beds. It will be the first major improvement to the hospital’s emergency department in almost 20 years.
“The care available in the ED at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton is already excellent,” said Paul. “What the new emergency department is going to give patients is a better experience and more capacity. In-unit diagnostic imaging and a greater number of beds is going to make the experience for patients much faster and more efficient.”
During a special tour of the new space as it neared completion in late June, Mashburn agreed with Paul’s sentiments.
“This is great,” he said. “This isn’t a small project—this is tremendous. This is a huge new space. It’s very impressive.”
For Mashburn, though, what he experienced was enough to convince him of the importance of emergency care at Tanner.
“I was extremely appreciative,” he said. “If I had gone home, things wouldn’t have gone so well. I’m extremely appreciative of the care I received at Tanner.”