It was a Monday morning and Jay Halcomb was at his job at a Kenosha manufacturing company. To Jay it felt like any other day.
Only it wasn’t.
"I had been working on a production line and was heading to the maintenance shop," Jay recalled. "As soon as I got there, I just collapsed."
Jay suffered a "widow-maker" – a heart attack that instantly left him unconscious, not breathing, and with no pulse. Not long ago, few people in Jay’s condition reached a hospital alive. Today, big advances in heart care in Kenosha County mean many more of these stories have happy outcomes.
For Jay, it began with co-workers starting CPR the minute he collapsed. "My boss and another guy did CPR on me for almost 15 minutes until the paramedics got there," Jay said. Paramedics used a defibrillator to restart Jay’s heart, performed an electrocardiogram (EKG), and transmitted the results electronically to Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital as the ambulance sped Jay to the hospital.
"In the old days, they would wait to do the EKG in the emergency department. There’d be a big delay there," said Dr. Tim Sanborn, the heart specialist who treated Jay at St. Catherine’s. "By EMS transmitting the EKG to the hospital, physicians could look at it and call me in, so I’m on the way while they’re bringing the patient to the hospital."
AT THE HOSPITAL
Sanborn and his team whisked Jay into a cath lab where they opened the blocked artery and inserted a stent to keep it open, all in a matter of minutes. "That’s what we call door-to-balloon time," Dr. Sanborn said. "From when they arrive at the emergency department until we open up the artery with a little balloon. We want that to be the shortest time possible, because that's how we limit damage to the heart."
This fast, coordinated care right here in Kenosha County is why Jay is alive today. "I feel lucky and blessed and amazed that I actually made it," said Jay. "I can’t sing praises enough about the guys I work with, the paramedics, and the hospital. I’m back to work and doing well."
LEADING CARE CLOSE TO HOME
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Kenosha Medical Center and St. Catherine’s Medical Center have long been leaders in advancing cutting edge heart care in Kenosha County. With interventional cardiologists on staff and facilities on-site, they're able to do life-saving angioplasty and stenting procedures close to home and around the clock, seven days a week - procedures they now perform primarily through the wrist to reduce risk and increase patient comfort. The hospitals also have an open heart surgery program that's staffed by two cardiothoracic surgeons.
"We have built a heart team right here in Kenosha County," Dr. Sanborn said, "that provides care equal to or better than what you’d receive almost anywhere." Through collaboration with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, patients in Kenosha County with the most challenging heart conditions can receive leading edge treatments such as minimally-invasive heart valve replacement, left ventricle assist devices that help the heart pump, as well as heart transplants.
"This is all part of the evolution in the treatment of a heart attack," said Sanborn. "A lot more people are surviving today."