Latest in cardiac rehabilitation and diagnostic imaging available in Ilwaco

ILWACO - The Peninsula not only has a beautiful new hospital building, but Ocean Beach Hospital has some wonderful new services to go with it, some of them unique to the entire Oregon and Washington coasts.

Cardiovascular technician and respiratory therapist Dan Burns came on board at the hospital in March and has established a state-of-the-art lab in a bright room behind the glass bricks at the front of the new building. His first patient came to the lab the first week of November.

"They've taken to it like a duck to water," he said. His right hand is Kathy Murkowski, a nurse in the cardiac rehab department.

Burns, 51, is also pastor of a Quaker church in Wheeler, Ore., and has 30 years experience in the field. He's responsible for cardiac rehabilitation, Holter monitoring, pulmonary function and treadmill testing and respiratory therapy.

"I wear five hats," he said. The Holter monitor analyzes cardiac rates for abnormalities after a patient is on the monitor for a 24-hour period. The results then go to a physician who determines future treatment.

"My purpose is to provide a service to the community that didn't exist here before," Burns said. "OBH is the only place on Washington and Oregon coasts that has something like this." He said cardiologists in Portland are excited about what he's doing at OBH.

Burns's future goals include bringing a sleep studies lab to OBH, also unique to the Oregon and Washington coasts.

"This is my vision," he said. Hospital CEO Jim Robertson and the board "are very interested in bringing a sleep lab here." The lab would treat people with sleep apnea, mainly concentrating on a person's weight and helping them lose it.

Burns is enthusiastic about his facility at the hospital and of OBH in general.

"When I came here," he said, "Jim and the board made a commitment and were supportive of what I wanted to do. I've never worked for better management. I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall because they were so good. I was shocked at the board's graciousness and caring. They work together and are unified and moving forward. Nobody is in the dark. Their focus is doing things for the community. People have no clue about how great they have it here. It's an unreal place."

He praised OBH Director of Nursing Linda Kaino as "the best manager I've ever worked under." And, he said Robertson is "awesome. He is personable and involved at all levels, interacting with the staff."

In the hospital's new X-ray lab, manager of Diagnostic Services Martha Goodwin and "the two Steves" - Steve Curtis, lead technician in the hospital's imaging department, and radiology technician Steve Curry - have a number of new high-tech tools to work with.

Goodwin said with the new tele-radiology tool, the hospital can send X-rays to a local physician that he can view at home.

X-ray film is a thing of the past and now uses much the same technology as a digital camera. Images can be manipulated, darkened or lightened, flipped or magnified at a work station.

Curtis, who has been at OBH for six years, handles the daily running of the department and does technical trouble-shooting. Curry does general X-rays and computerized tomography, formerly called CAT scans.

Also new at OBH is a mobile MRI unit that comes to the hospital every Tuesday, providing an advanced medical imaging technique for diagnosis of diseases of the brain, spine, skeleton, chest, abdomen, pelvis and blood vessels.

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