A cardiac emergency can happen in a second. A feeling of breathlessness, tightness in the chest, dizziness, stomach upset and shots of pain in your shoulder and arm, and finally, an urgent visit to the Emergency Room.

Apart from childbirth, heart attack and heart failure are the most common reasons for hospital admissions across Canada.

About 62 per cent of patients admitted to Langley Memorial Hospital’s (LMH) intensive care unit (ICU) in 2021 were admitted after suffering from cardiac pain or emergencies.

Cardiac care is in great demand in Langley. Back in 2016-17, 666 patients needed cardiac monitoring at LMH. By 2020-21, that number had grown to 793.

That monitoring – or telemetry — is essential in the care of every patient who visits LMH for cardiac care, either in the Emergency Department or in the ICU which houses the cardiac care unit.

Telemetry allows doctors to watch for abnormal patterns in heartbeat, arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation, which occur when the heart beats too fast and irregularly. The abnormal activity can be seen on a monitor at the nurses’ station spontaneously, allowing for quick intervention.

But with Langley’s booming population comes more pressure to meet the corresponding demand for lifesaving equipment.

The cardiac care team has six dedicated telemetry beds to monitor patients in the Intensive Care Unit. But that’s not enough to keep up with the demand from the growing numbers of patients admitted to the unit.

If all six telemetry spaces in the ICU are occupied, that patient is forced to stay in the Emergency Department where we only have one specialized bed for cardiac monitoring.

The situation is far from ideal and puts health care workers in a position where they don’t feel they are delivering the excellent cardiac care they were specially trained for, says Dr. Daniel Negash, an LMH Internal Medicine Specialist.

“The Emergency Department is busy and the staff have to deal with very sick patients there. Meanwhile [cardiac specialists] are waiting for the cardiac patients to come to the ICU.”

Langley Memorial’s cardiology team, the Foundation and donor community have united in a fundraising effort to complete the ICU with four additional telemetry-equipped beds.

“The priority right now is to make sure we get those patients, waiting in the Emergency Department, into a bed with a telemetry unit. I want our patients to come in, be treated and go home safely,” Dr. Negash says.

Manjit Gill, a Langley community activist, fundraiser and donor, is a leader in the effort. Last summer her husband Darcy, spent time in the ICU to prepare for a procedure to install a pacemaker.

“The care was excellent, but the beds were constantly full and the teams were juggling to keep patients in the right unit for the care they needed.”

She says the hospital’s need for telemetry-equipped beds would make a huge difference in the experience of patients who visit LMH’s Emergency Department for urgent cardiac care.

“We all know how fast Langley is growing, and it’s important that the cardiac unit and entire hospital grow in pace with change.”

To support cardiac care at Langley Memorial Hospital, donate today