CARBONDALE — Physicians and staff of Southern Illinois Healthcare Prairie Heart Institute and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale are celebrating a milestone in cardiac care. They have performed their 100th TAVR procedure.

TAVR, or Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement, is a procedure that replaces a heart valve through the femoral artery in the groin, similar to placing a stent in a blocked artery.

Traditionally, heart valves are replaced during open heart surgery, which has a long recovery period. The TAVR procedure requires a short hospital stay, and patients may resume normal activity in a few days.

The milestone was celebrated Tuesday evening at a dinner at Garden Grove Event Center in Carbondale.

“It is absolutely amazing for a community hospital our size to have a program like this,” Al Taylor, SIH vice president and administrator of Memorial Hospital, said. “The fact that we have grown to do 100 in the time we have is also amazing. I’m really proud of our team.”

Dr. Russell McElveen said it would not have been possible to reach this milestone without every person in the room, which included staff from Prairie and the hospital.

“It takes an army to get where we got,” McElveen said.

Jimmy Mitchell, representative for Medtronic, the company that makes the valve used in the TAVR, said the staff should feel proud of the service they provide in Carbondale.

“They do a great job here and they are really knowledgeable,” Mitchell said. “More than that, they are 100% committed to the patient. When they do that, good things happen.”

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Dr. Magdalena Zeglin, interventional cardiologist with SIH Prairie Heart Institute, called the 100th TAVR procedure a big success for the hospital and Prairie. The first TAVR was done in early 2018. She said many bigger hospitals have not reached this level of expertise.

“Everybody should be proud and grateful to have this opportunity,” Zeglin said.

Zeglin and fellow interventional cardiologist Dr. Gangadhar Malasana have championed the program, with help from cardio-thoracic surgeons Dr. John Watson and McElveen.

“It’s nice to be able to offer advanced procedures in a rural area and have good outcomes,” McElveen said.

Both physicians say one of the big advantages to the procedure is people can stay close to home and not have to travel for medical care.

“Our patients pushed us to expand care and offer more and more choices and different procedures,” Zeglin said.

McElveen is currently working on an alternative to going through the femoral artery for the valve replacement. Instead, he is accessing the heart through the carotid artery. When a patient has a procedure that uses the femoral artery for access, such as TAVR or placing a stent, the patient has to lay flat for several hours after the procedure.

“With the carotid alternative, patient can still have TAVR, but can mobilize quicker and return home quicker,” McElveen said.

For more information about the TAVR procedure, call SIH Prairie Heart Institute at 618-529-0555.

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