Mobile EKG units donated to county Only St. Joseph's hospital equipped to receive data

June 26, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Equipment that can be used to diagnose a heart attack while PTC a patient is being rushed to a hospital was donated to the Baltimore County Fire Department yesterday by St. Joseph Medical Center -- for now, the only medical institution in the state that can use it.

Paramedics will begin using the system -- which the hospital said cost $50,000 -- next month, fire officials said as they demonstrated it outside St. Joseph's emergency room.

The equipment consists of sophisticated EKG units that transmit data from an ambulance to the hospital, giving a detailed "picture" of the heart. It will be kept in supervisors' cars in the Cockeysville, Hillendale, Garrison and Fullerton fire districts, said Capt. Bruce W. Conrad of the department's Emergency Services Division. The cars follow ambulances on chest-pain calls.

Conrad said paramedics use similar technology, but their older equipment does not obtain enough data to confirm a heart attack. "This way we can transmit the information to the hospital immediately and reduce the patient's evaluation time in the emergency room," he said.

Although the equipment will be available in all areas of the county, its use may be limited unless other hospitals invest in the technology. "Patients will still be taken to the closest hospital," Conrad said.

David P. McGinnis, a distributor for Marquette Inc., the manufacturer, said Franklin Square Hospital Center in Essex and Johns Hopkins and St. Agnes hospitals in Baltimore have the necessary equipment and can buy a modem to complete it for about $1,000. It will cost other hospitals a minimum of $5,500, he said.

"I haven't started talking too much yet to the other hospitals, but they do seem interested," he said. "First we wanted to get it up and running here before we started expanding it to other hospitals."

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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