RAVENNA -- John Ludwick doesn't look like a guy who was dead for four minutes.

But just a few months ago, the Kent man, who went to University Hospitals-Portage Medical Center in Ravenna for a stress test, ended up going into cardiac arrest. He was wheeled across the hall to the hospital's cardiac catheter lab, where he had a procedure that saved his life.

"I could not be prouder of this hospital and all it's done for me," he said to a group who came to hear about the hospital's recent investments and expansion plans. "You've got a great team here."

The hospital hosted a dinner for community members recently, giving people a first-hand look at some of its $31 million worth of investments since University Hospitals took ownership almost two years ago. Those investments included the recruitment of two new doctors -- Dr. David Ly in oncology and Dr. Anjan Gupta in cardiology -- who both joined the hospital staff in September.

Gupta is an "interventional cardiologist," which means he's the person who performs the life-saving procedure that opens an artery in the event of a heart attack.

"The sooner you open the blood vessel, the more heart tissue you can save," he said. "We're doing these within 15 to 20 minutes of them arriving at the hospital, which is phenomenal."

Thomas Conner, director of ambulatory services at the hospital, said a change in the law allowed the hospital to offer cardiac catheterizations, even though the hospital doesn't have surgical backup. Previously, patients who arrived in the emergency department with a heart attack had to be sent to another larger hospital for the procedure.

Based on the number of patients that were being sent away, the hospital projected that it would do about 37 procedures in its first year, working up to 137 within five years.

Instead, Conner said, 200 patients have been seen in the cath lab in its first six months since the law changed. The national benchmark for patients to undergo the procedure is 60 minutes, he said, and most are seen much more quickly. The fastest time from arrival to procedure is 16 minutes, which was achieved recently.

Ludwick said he was feeling weak and lacked energy, and his wife Ruth, who is a nurse, insisted that he see his doctor. The doctor sent him to the hospital for a stress test, and that's when he went into cardiac arrest.

The first procedure in January of this year took care of a blockage in one artery. A month later, he had a second operation to take care of three blockages in another artery. A month after that, he was vacationing in Florida with his family.

The hospital hopes to build a second cardiac catheter lab so patients don't have to wait if another procedure is being done at the same time, and to provide backup for equipment failures.

Ly talked about advances at the Ravenna hospital's Seidman Cancer Center, including a $4 million linear accelerator, used for radiation treatment.

"Almost anything they can do at the main campus, we can do here," Ly said. "It's very much the same level of treatment here as it is at the main campus."

The event also discussed a freestanding emergency room under construction in Kent, and the "medical support program." Renee Klaric, director of the program, said the center treats people with the "chronic disease of addiction."

She said once people "cross a line" and become addicted, their disease is no different from those with another chronic illness, such as diabetes. Both, she said, often involve people making poor choices before they realized they needed help to control their condition.

"It's all the same," she said. "All the same."

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