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Published: Sunday, 12/4/2005

All heart in Findlay

Open-heart surgery is nothing unusual in major-city medicine these days, but it's a lot less common in smaller communities. So the new heart center opened recently at Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center in Findlay is a progressive step for the Hancock County community.

The hospital previously had to send patients who required such advanced heart procedures as bypass surgery and installation of stents to medical facilities in Lima, Toledo, and Columbus.

With the debut last month of Blanchard Valley's $3.2 million HeartCare Center, the operations can be performed quickly and close to home, a potential lifesaver for the patients and a convenience for family and friends.

The principal cardiac surgeon is Dr. Gary Parenteau, who trained at the University of Michigan.

At one time, the capacity to perform open-heart surgery at a hospital in a city the size of Findlay - population about 40,000 - might have been considered a medical extravagance, but that is no longer the case, not by a long shot.

With obesity at epidemic proportions, cardiovascular disease is rampant. More than 70 million Americans have some type of heart disease, and more than 60 percent of them are under 65. While it would be better if people protected their health by exercising more, eating better, and avoiding such risk factors as smoking, surgery often is necessary to save lives.

In the case of heart surgery, sooner often is better than later, so having a full range of procedures available nearby should mean fewer unnecessary deaths for the people of Hancock County.

In opening its heart facility, Blanchard Valley is taking a substantial financial risk, coming as it does in the midst of construction of a $95 million addition to the hospital.

But the people of Findlay and its prosperous environs have strongly supported the hometown medical center for many years, and there is little doubt that many will continue to entrust it to care for their hearts as well.

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