Avista Donation Helps Congenital Heart Patients Receive Care Close to Home

Heart abnormalities are the number one birth defect. Conditions can extend from structural issues like holes and leaky valves to much more complicated malformations. In a wide 200 mile+ region surrounding Spokane, patients count on the dedicated team of specialists at Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease for care.

Congenital heart patients, who range in age from birth through adulthood, require continuous monitoring by specialists throughout their lifetimes. These frequent visits can be difficult for those individuals and their families.

Thanks to a generous donation from Avista Foundation, these patients can now access their important diagnostic echocardiograms close to home. A $50,000 grant, awarded to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, will allow the physicians to monitor the health of patients in their clinics across central and eastern Washington, north Idaho and northeast Oregon. Additional funding was provided by Providence Health Care Foundation.

“Avista’s service territory spans five states, much of which is rural,” says Pat Lynch, Director of Community Development for Avista and President of the Board of Directors for the Avista Foundation. “We are uniquely aware of the challenges that rural families face in accessing specialized medical care. We were excited to learn of the opportunity to place a portable echo in service to the rural medical network in Washington and Idaho. This equipment will save families time and money and avoid the stress of the long trip to Spokane for an echo. These are all real benefits to our local communities.

Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease performs 6,000 echocardiograms (echos) annually

Our congenital ECHO labs perform approximately 6,000 echocardiagams per year including fetal, newborn, children and adults with known or suspected congenital cardiac problems,” says Rick Jensen, M.D., ECHO program lead physician. “Our clinic services multiple satellite clinics across the region including central, eastern, southeast and northeast WA, North Idaho, and Northeast, Oregon. Performing high-quality echocardiograms on patients with known or suspected congenital heart disease is a fundamental modality for any pediatric cardiology practice. Since our patient population is so diverse and our outreach encompasses such a large geographic region, it is crucial for us to offer portable echo services close to where families live.”

“As technology has improved, medical echo technology advancements have allowed for miniaturization of once large equipment into smaller portable machines. These portable machines are ideal for providing necessary imaging services to both small and large patients, with the acquired data then transferred as digital information back to a system wide server. For many families, this means that from 2-6 hours of drive-time to and from Spokane for congenital cardiac evaluations can often be eliminated. Remote families appreciate when we can see them close to home,” says Dr. Jensen.

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