Keeping the Beat in Heart Care
Recently, Jim Pomeroy battled his 10-year-old grandson, Alex, in a game of one-on-one basketball. Jim won but admits he probably came out as the victor because he requested the right-handed Alex to shoot with his left hand.
A game between grandson and grandfather may not seem extraordinary, but only a few weeks before the game, Jim experienced extreme fatigue with a high risk of sudden cardiac arrest or stroke due to irregular and often unproductive heartbeats known as PVC fibrillation.
Thanks to a minimally invasive procedure called an ablation performed in the Texarkana region’s only Electrophysiology (EP) Lab at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, Jim was able to regain the quality of life he desired — spending time with his family — especially his four grandsons, Landon, Mason, Alex and Aidan.
The Rhythm of Life
Kevin Hayes, M.D., CHRISTUS St. Michael EP lab medical director and the area’s only cardiac electrophysiologist, works daily with the EP lab team at CHRISTUS St. Michael to diagnose and treat disorders in the electrical system of the heart so Jim and others with similar issues can receive advanced heart care right here at home.
“Having a dedicated EP Lab in Texarkana allows us to treat these complex and life-altering heart rhythm problems with greater convenience to the patients and their family members,” Dr. Hayes says. “In Jim’s case, he was having so many extra heart beats that his heart was working inefficiently — like an engine misfiring. It was dramatically affecting his energy levels. We were privileged enough to be able to help
Jim feel much better with a low-risk, outpatient procedure.”
No stranger to heart disease, Jim underwent bypass surgery in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997, and later received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and pacemaker with atrial
and ventricular ablations — targeted scarring to treat arrythmia — in 2005, also in St. Louis.
Jim and his wife, Trudy, relocated to Texarkana in 2011 for him to serve as the vice president of Mission Integration at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. Planning to retire and return to St. Louis in June 2016, Jim suffered an unexpected challenge when he learned that a complicated procedure was needed to replace a lead wire in his pacemaker in April.
Without hesitation, Jim and Trudy chose to stay in Texarkana for Dr. Hayes to perform the procedure. Then, in September, Jim and Trudy again decided CHRISTUS St. Michael and Dr. Hayes were the right
choices when he needed another ablation procedure to get his heart beating the way it should.
“Compassion is the willingness to enter into another person’s chaos,” Jim says, paraphrasing Catholic author James F. Keenan S.J. “Dr. Hayes is willing to do that. He goes beyond the mechanical aspect of fixing the heart and understands how important quality of life is to his patients. He works with each patient to achieve the best possible outcome.”
“I have been in some of the best Catholic hospitals in the country,” Jim says. “I can honestly say the service I got here is better than anywhere else I’ve been when it comes to the whole package. Yes, the technical efficiency is certainly great, but it is the whole experience that counts, and that’s what you get at CHRISTUS St. Michael.”