Providence St. Patrick Hospital offers advanced life-support for patients in critical care

February 28, 2024 Providence News Team

Providence St. Patrick Hospital cardiac physicians and other caregivers have recently been trained to use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. ECMO is a sophisticated machine that takes blood from the patient and oxygenates it, then pumps it back into the patient’s body. This method allows the blood to "bypass" the heart and lungs, allowing these organs to rest and heal.

ECMO is used in critical care situations when the heart and lungs need help so the patient can heal. It may be used in care for lung or heart failure, COVID-19, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and other infections. Doctors can use ECMO to stabilize a severely ill patient while they are determining the diagnosis or starting treatment. ECMO can support blood oxygen and circulation for someone awaiting a heart or lung transplant.

Providence Heart Institute cardiac surgeon Travis Abicht, MD, says, “Having access to ECMO means our patients will have access to some of the most cutting-edge support possible for those with heart and lung issues. This brings life-saving care to the doorstep of those of our community and our region. ECMO can support our patients in an emergency, a procedural complication, or as a result of a chronic disease process. A limited number of centers have the capability to appropriately treat patients requiring this type of support, and we are lucky to have an excellent team of clinicians and caregivers who can provide this care close to home for our patients.”

Dr. Abicht specializes in advanced heart failure and was a founding member of a transplant/ventricular assist device program at the University of Kansas.

He continues, “Our goal at Providence Heart Institute is to provide world class cardiac care to our patients and to be clinical leaders in the cardiovascular space. The ability to provide ECMO support is a further step forward in achieving this goal. We can take care of some of the most ill patients with heart and lung disease. For patients requiring even more advanced therapies (i.e., heart transplant), we can stabilize them and allow them to be evaluated for further life-saving interventions. ECMO also allows us to clinically push forward with high-risk interventions and surgeries that otherwise would not be offered. Having this therapy here at St. Pat’s allows us to continue moving forward with the mission to be a regional leader within cardiovascular medicine." 

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