Arizona residents gain greater access to highly specialized lung care
(CHANDLER, Ariz. – April 15, 2022) – Now among an elite group of facilities nationwide, Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center launched an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) program on March 1 in order to provide more Arizonans with greater access to this highly specialized and lifesaving lung technology closer to home.
ECMO is a life-support machine used for patients who are awaiting lung or heart transplants, or have a severe and life-threatening illness that keeps their heart or lungs from working properly, such as severe lung damage from infection, heart attack, and, most recently - COVID 19.
The complex medical intervention gained nationwide media attention during the pandemic when medical teams began using it for the most severe COVID-19 patients who meet very strict criteria. It is only used after all other conventional treatments have failed, and only a small but significant percentage of patients evaluated qualify.
“Few hospitals in the country have ECMO programs because they require a large team of highly skilled individuals,” says Mark Slyter, president and CEO of Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center. “We’re proud and grateful for the opportunity to bring this important service to communities of the East Valley and beyond.”
In collaboration with surgeons from Dignity Health Norton Thoracic Institute as well as other cardiothoracic and cardiology specialists, Chandler Regional’s ECMO program is led by Dignity Health Medical Group intensivist, Francis “Mike” Maguire, DO. It also includes five additional intensivists, and a team of 15 specialty trained ECMO nurses and respiratory therapists.
“The earlier we can treat qualifying patients with ECMO, the higher the likelihood of quicker recovery times and the possibility of improved quality of life for the patient post-treatment,” says Dr. Maguire. “Treating these patients requires significant training, careful planning and true dedication as the recovery process using this technology usually takes weeks and sometimes months.”
This endeavor has been in progress for years and was made possible by a generous donation from the Gila River Indian Community. Prior to opening the program, the team at Chandler Regional has worked closely with its sister hospital, Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, to orchestrate delicate transfer cases for patients needing this treatment.