Money slated for Glendale Memorial

Local heart patients got a boost when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Monday announced he had secured enough money in an appropriations bill for a $350,000 upgrade for the chest pain center at Glendale Memorial Hospital.

Hospital officials said they will use the money to improve equipment and cardiac care at the center, which was built to quickly test and treat patients with problems ranging from chest pain to serious heart attacks.

"Glendale Memorial treats a substantial number of people with cardiac illness and had a need to improve its technology," Schiff said. "It seemed an important investment."

A combination of hereditary factors affecting people of Eastern European background, as well as behavioral causes such as smoking and diet, contribute to the number of people with heart problems in the area, said Jean Marie Stewart, vice president of the center.

The hospital sees more patients with heart issues each year than any other kind, with the exception of expecting mothers, she added.

The hospital treats about 25 heart attack patients each month, with far more patients appearing in need of less immediate treatment or testing for cardiac-related troubles, Stewart said.

The chest pain center opened in September.

"Over 30% of our patients were being admitted with heart disease. We responded by opening the center, which allows us to rapidly diagnose and evaluate patients that have complaints of chest pain," Stewart said.

Patients at other hospitals face waits of up to two days for tests that fully diagnose complaints of heart problems, but that wait can be as little as four hours at Glendale Memorial thanks to up-to-date equipment and coordinated procedures, said Tamar Avakian, coordinator of the chest pain center.

Schiff cautioned that the funding, included in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, could take up to three months to pass. The only major risk to the funding would be if the appropriations process crashes entirely.

"The funding still has a ways to go," he said. "But it passed its toughest hurdle, I think, in this bill."

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