Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

New device monitors abnormal heart activity


September 27, 2018

Lois E. Johnson

The new loop recorder is shown on the bottom, and shown in the middle in the tool used to insert the device. A pen is above to show size comparison.

Dr. Sharon Gossett brought a new device for diagnosing issues with the heart to the monthly meeting of the Mercy Hospital board of directors.

"The Confirm Loop Recorder is implanted in the body at an angle near the heart," said Gossett. "This is how big it is."

It is a device that it around two inches in length, a half-inch wide and flat. The device can be implanted during an outpatient procedure and has very low complications, she added.

"This is a diagnostic device," Gossett said. "It tells us what we need to do. It doesn't cure anything. It needs to be a tight fit so it can pick up heart rhythms."

The recorder downloads information to an app on a smart phone and the information is sent to Dr. Paul Dewey, Gossett explained. Dewey would look for abnormal heart activity.

"If the patient doesn't have a smart phone, we give them one," she added. "It can't be a flip phone, it has to be a smart phone. The patient needs to have access to WiFi."

Gossett also explained that 50 percent of the people who have these devices are diagnosed as needing a pacemaker.

"Older people are depending on pacemakers more and more," she said. "Dr. Dewey is in charge of the pacemaker clinic. I do battery changes. Once you get a pacemaker, it's in for life."

There was a question about the device being covered by insurance.

Mercy CEO Michael Delfs explained that it is covered by insurance. The devices cost $4,800 each and have to be purchased in packs of 10.

"We literally got these and started using them a week ago Friday, and we have inserted four of them already," said Gossett. "All of those patients were walk-in patients.

"It's really not a big deal, it really isn't. The biggest deal is teaching elderly people how to use the phones and keep them charged. I think that this is the modern age of medicine. It's pretty cool."

Delfs spoke to the board about the update to the by-laws. There is a plan that Mercy would become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

"We will look at adding two to four more board members," he said. "We would start in October."

Another meeting was scheduled for the following evening, Sept. 25, to discuss the changes in the by-laws.

The board also reviewed the budget for the next year.

Delfs said that the in-patient numbers have stagnated but the out-patient numbers show growth.

A new gynecologist will be starting in November, he also said. She will only be a gynecologist, not an obstetrics doctor, he added.

"The bottom line is that we are projecting a two percent increase in the budget," said Delfs.

Delfs also explained that Dr. Jonathan Sande, the oncologist that sees patients at Mercy, will also start seeing patients at Essentia Health in Sandstone.

"The largest load of patients comes from the south," said Delfs. "Those are at a higher risk of us losing. But they won't be doing chemotherapy in Sandstone.

"Patients with cancer are devoted to their doctor and nurse. People don't want to drive a long distance for protracted services."

Delfs added that the patients always have had the option to go to a doctor and receive treatment in Duluth but have stayed and received treatment at Mercy.


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