Lifesaving Cardiac Care in Huntingdon

Michael Cordle is a walking miracle. The 54-year-old Huntingdon resident had three heart attacks in one day and may not be here today if the physicians at Penn Highlands Huntingdon hadn’t performed the interventions they did in the hospital’s new Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

In October 2019, Mr. Cordle was having meniscus surgery on his right knee, when he went into cardiac arrest in the Operating Room. Doctors acted quickly performing CPR on him and then taking him to the Cardiac Cath Lab where cardiologist Michael Sabatini, MD, used the hospital’s state-of-the-art angiography system to open his blocked arteries with stents.

“I credit the team at Penn Highlands Huntingdon and the availability of the interventions I needed in the Cath Lab for saving my life,” said Mr. Cordle.

For Mr. Cordle, the journey to wellness was slow and filled with setbacks. He was on life support for 37 days and then went to a skilled nursing facility for one month. During the recovery process, he contracted pneumonia, MRSA and Sepsis. Then, he had to learn to walk, talk and use his hands again.

Mr. Cordle attributes his full recovery on two factors. “Before my heart attacks, I was very active. I had a labor-intensive job with Giant Food Stores which kept me strong. More so, everyone in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Penn Highlands Huntingdon was awesome! They did everything possible to keep me alive!”

The Penn Highlands Huntingdon Cardiac Cath Lab provides one of the most technologically advanced systems available to examine blood flow. The upgraded system, which was installed in fall 2022, incorporates an x-ray tube and detector technology, which is designed to improve minimally invasive therapy for many conditions such as coronary artery disease and stroke. The x-ray tube is designed to deliver sharp images for larger patients and steeper angles. The system provides unmatched positioning flexibility that enables the medical teams at Penn Highlands Huntingdon to perform the most advanced cardiac catheterization, vascular and interventional radiology procedures. The advanced positioning enables the 3D-visualization of larger sections of anatomy. These sharply detailed images provide physicians with additional information to distinguish soft tissue when making their diagnoses while offering the potential to reduce procedural radiation doses.

Erin Sherwood, RN, Director of the ICU/Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Penn Highlands Huntingdon, says that while the equipment is state-of-the-art, it is the people who help make the Cath Lab outstanding. “Having many years of intensive care and Cardiac Cath Lab experience, I can say that this is a truly unique environment,” she said. “What I see as special about our Cath Lab is the level of caring and how well the staff interact with patients and families. They really take the time to treat the person. Penn Highlands Huntingdon is a community hospital and our Cardiac Cath Lab staff have to live close to be within range for call, so this is their hometown and they are providing care to their neighbors.”

More Second Chances

The Cardiac Cath Lab at Penn Highlands Huntingdon gives many people a second chance at life as Sally Knight can attest.

“I would have died if they didn’t have that Cardiac Cath Lab at my hospital,” Sally said. “I owe my life to the quick actions of everyone in the Cath Lab.”

Sally had an abnormal heartbeat and was told that she needed cardiac catheterization. During the procedure, it was discovered that she had 96% blockage which is known as the “widow maker.”

“I am extremely grateful to my cardiologist, Dr. Tarun Tandon, and the entire staff of the Cardiac Care Unit in Huntingdon. I am better than I was before. I feel like a new person,” Sally added.

Saltillo-resident James Cowan also feels great following his angioplasty and has great respect for the staff in the Cardiac Cath Lab at Penn Highlands Huntingdon.

“They are very hardworking. I cannot say enough about them – they are all angels,” he said. “I have nothing but admiration for the staff because they eased my anxiety and made me feel comfortable.”

James has been a frequent patient in the Cardiac Cath Lab. He has had a total of 13 stents put in – receiving his last three in the past 30 days.

“I had heart issues since I was 36 years old. I had my first stent in 1996,” said the married father of two sons. “While it takes a few days to recover from the procedure, I feel great now,” he added.

In fact, James, who is known for his culinary skills, is so grateful for the care the staff gave to him, he is making assorted flavors of homemade fudge for them.

Huntingdon Cath Lab 1
Michael Cordle shakes hands with cardiologist Michael Sabatini, MD, who used Penn Highlands Huntingdon’s state-of-the-art angiography system to open his blocked arteries with stents.
Huntingdon Cath Lab 2
Michael Cordle (center) is pictured with the team who provided cardiac care to him at Penn Highlands Huntingdon, including (l. to r.) Karra Clevenger, BSN, RN; Dezarae Smith, BSN, RN; Michael Sabatini, MD; Bill Harris, RT(R), CTCI; Lee Seibert, BSN, RN; Roni Kratzer, RN; Denise Smeal, BSN, RN; and Phallen Magill, MSN, RN.
Huntingdon Cath Lab 3
Shown in the photo is Sally Knight.