Bill for hospital heart unit passes key committee

A bill committing $2 million to Hilo Medical Center so stents can be offered to patients with heart blockages passed a key Senate committee.

The Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously that the bill should be passed. It will provide startup funds for recruitment of two additional cardiologists, support staff, training and equipment.

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The bill will still need to cross over to the House if the full Senate votes for passage.

Proponents of the bill say stents offered in Hilo will save lives because patients won’t be delayed waiting for assessment, stabilization and emergency flights to Oahu.

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Time is crucial when a stent is needed because it doesn’t help restore blood flow with a stent if the heart muscle gets damaged too badly before the stent gets placed.

Proponents say offering stents in the hospital’s new cardiology clinic also will prevent the financial burden of costly flights.