A heart transplant isn’t for the faint of heart. It is an extremely complex surgery with many risks and complications, both during the surgery and afterwards. For Alan MacPhee, a heart transplant recipient, even small changes in his heart rate and body temperature can indicate it’s time to head to the hospital- in his case, Pullman Regional Hospital.
Alan had a heart transplant 4 years ago in Seattle, WA. When he and his wife decided to move to Pullman, healthcare was a priority. “I interviewed several doctors before choosing a primary care physician here,” says Alan. “I wanted to ensure whoever I chose would be willing and able to work with my transplant team in Seattle who continue to monitor me.” Alan decided to pick Dr. Molly Webber at Palouse Medical to oversee his care locally.
Due to Alan’s heart transplant, things that may be mildly concerning to others are cause for seeking immediate medical care for him- like an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time or a 101 degree fever. “It’s wonderful to go to a hospital where people know you,” Alan said as he recalled a time when he spiked a fever and needed to go to the hospital. “My wife called the emergency department to let them know we were coming in. When we arrived, nurses were waiting at the door to greet us and get me the care I needed.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alan was extra cautious, as he is immunocompromised. When he contracted the virus, he was able to receive Evusheld Antibody Treatment, a monoclonal antibody treatment for high-risk individuals at Pullman Regional Hospital- twice. “My transplant team in Seattle was unable to get that medication because it was in very short supply, but I was able to get it in Pullman. It was amazing,” reflects Alan.
Six weeks after having COVID-19, Alan developed a high heart rate of 140-160 beats per minute. He had an ablation, but then his heart rate rose rapidly again. Alan and his wife knew he needed immediate medical care, so they headed to Pullman Regional Hospital. “Usually in this type of situation, I’d be Life Flighted to Seattle under the care of my transplant team,” Alan said.
But because of the pandemic, Seattle didn’t have any beds available. Alan ended up spending 3 nights in Pullman Regional Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where hospitalist Dr. Anupam Arora and the ICU nurses talked with his transplant team and cardiologist and managed the care through their instructions here in Pullman. “The teams worked so well together. We sure trust the people in Pullman.”
Alan and his wife are happy they moved to Pullman. They have family in the area- including some of their children and grandchildren who bought the house next to them(!), a healthcare system they know and trust, and the ability to get to Seattle quickly for emergency cardiac care, should they ever need to.