SEVEN years after the first catheter lab opened at Orange Base Hospital heart patients have services to rival many available in metropolitan hospitals.
The latest, and one of the most significant developments, has been the move to a 24-hour heart intervention team.
This means emergency patients needing catheter type treatments to open arteries or insert stents are no longer at the mercy of staff rosters or dependent on staff volunteering to go back to the hospital at all hours to perform what could be life-saving procedures.
As a result more patients will be treated sooner without relying on emergency evacuations to Sydney.
Along with the 24-hour heart intervention program the hospital will soon roll out a remote ECG diagnostic program in conjunction with the NSW Ambulance service.
The technology will allow a heart specialist to diagnose and treat a heart patient in the back of an ambulance using ECG data taken by a paramedic and transmitted to the specialist at Orange hospital.
Again, this technology helps counter one of the greatest threats to critically ill patients, the delays in treatment which are a fact of life in regional and rural areas.
What is truly remarkable is that the advances in coronary care in Orange are due in no small measure to the Mid West Heart Fund.
It was this charity which raised the initial funds to establish the catheter lab at the old base hospital in Dalton Street.
This was the catalyst for doctors in Orange getting the facilities and the experience to do more of the heart treatments which should not require transporting a patient to Sydney.
As with many of the advances in medical treatment in Orange, including cancer treatment, community support in the provision of facilities has worked in unison with a willing and dedicated medical fraternity.
The results are helping to save lives in this region every day.