As part of the Columbia Memorial Hospital’s $8 million capital investments, the cardiology unit has a new home in the main hospital.

Cardiology had been housed across the street in the Park Medical Building since December 2010, when Oregon Health and Science University cardiologist Dr. Diana Rinkevich opened her practice with CMH. It moved May 21 to the third floor of the hospital’s new wing, which was completed in June 2011.

“We [were] doing everything there, but not in the best way we could for the patient,” Rinkevich said. “This is an amazing thing for the patient.”

Before the move, half of the clinic’s imaging equipment had to be kept in the hospital, where it often sat idle. Now that the clinic is part of the main hospital, and more than double the size, all the stress test and imaging equipment can be kept in the office where it can be used more fully, Rinkevich said.

“In this way, we’ll be able to provide echo[cardiograms] with virtually no waiting time,” she said, rather than having a 1 to 2 week wait for an appointment.

“No doubt, we’ll be seeing more patients and doing more procedures.”

Rinkevich anticipates that patients will be able to do tests in the morning and get the results back later that day. “Very few places do that,” she said.

The hospital itself also benefits, said CEO Erik Thorsen. “It’s a more efficient model. It puts the doctor closer to the emergency room … it also puts her closer to our cardiology rehab center.”

Rinkevich agreed, “For any emergency, it makes much more sense to be in the same building.”

Rinkevich was heavily involved in planning the design of the new cardiology unit. It has four procedure rooms, a room for monitoring pacemakers (which used to require a trip to Longview or Portland), five patient rooms, a conference room and enough office space to allow specialists to visit.

Because of Rinkevich’s reputation and association with OHSU, Astoria will soon be the home of a long-term study of cardiac health among women.

“There’s no example of such research in a rural area in Oregon,” Rinkevich said.

“Getting a research project like that demonstrates the benefits of our collaboration with OHSU,” Thorsen said. “Collaboration is going to be the key to success for healthcare in the future.”

Rinkevich said that the benefits of this collaboration run both directions. The community benefits from the expertise of professionals like her, who are part of the OHSU faculty, but practice in Astoria. And the university benefits from building relationships in a community that allows it to study rural health.

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