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Center for Cardiac Care History

The year was 1942. Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, the Disney Studio released “Bambi,” Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas,” and Enrico Fermi split the atom. And Elkhart General Hospital performed its first EKG (electrocardiogram).

Caring for the hearts in our community has been a priority at Elkhart General for decades. Why? Because heart disease claims a life every 32 seconds. It’s this country’s number one killer.

Over the years, we’ve steadily strengthened our expertise in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. A few quick examples: in 1971, we implanted our first pacemaker, in 1981, performed our first echocardiogram, and in 1991, we opened the first Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory in Elkhart County.

First Open Heart Surgery at Elkhart General

In keeping with this innovative tradition, in January 1997, after a full year of planning and preparation, the Open Heart Surgery program was established. Hundreds of patients and family members could now stay close to home for this lifesaving surgery rather than travel to South Bend or beyond. The teamwork and communication among the family doctor, the cardiologist, and the cardiothoracic surgeon was immediately enhanced, which was a major reason that local physicians encouraged the development of this new program. Some 270 open heart surgeries were performed that first year, and a total of 1,200 by June 1, 2001. Other procedures such as lung and vascular surgeries are done in this area as well.

The demand for cardiothoracic surgery was mirrored by the demand for balloon angioplasties and other interventional cardiology procedures in the “cath lab.” The first balloon angioplasty was performed in 1998, with over 200 performed by year’s end. Increasingly, the community was turning to Elkhart General to meet all of its heart care needs. In the fall of 1998, the Elkhart General Board of Directors responded by approving construction of the new Heart and Vascular Center.

A “Dream Unit” for Heart Care

In 2000, a new Center for Cardiac Care was added to the third floor of the Hospital. This $14 million, 32,000 square-foot area creates a “Heart Center within a Hospital.”

Combining cardiovascular services in one area is highly convenient and efficient for everyone involved: patients, families, doctors, nurses, and all other crucial members of the heart and critical care teams.

The state-of-the-art Center for Cardiac Care includes:

  • 3 Cardiovascular Surgery Suites
  • 2 Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories
  • 1 Electrophysiology Lab
  • 8-bed Cardiovascular Recovery Unit
  • 24-bed Critical Care Unit
  • Comfortable waiting areas for families

As proud as we are of our Center for Cardiac Care, bricks, mortar and technology do not make a quality service. That comes from our team of highly-skilled professionals working together with pride and commitment to provide a continuum of services to meet all your cardiac needs.