MANSFIELD — Each decade it seems that technology gets faster, smarter and more groundbreaking. Along with that, advancements in medicine have also shown promise.
Over the past 16 years, Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Gavin Baumgardner at OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospitals has seen a lot of growth from a local and worldwide perspective.
“Technology has really exploded over the last decade and has really enhanced how we take care of patients,” Baumgardner said.
One of Mansfield Hospital’s philosophies is to keep care as local as possible so that patients won’t have to get procedures or treatments done outside of Mansfield.
After hiring more physicians and allocating budgets and resources, OhioHealth has added on more advanced procedures, techniques and medications to help fulfill this philosophy.
“We are outside a large, metropolitan area, but we still offer a wide breadth and depth of services,” Baumgardner said.
The Structural Heart Program, part of the heart vascular program strategy, recently started at OhioHealth, in which advanced techniques are used to bring care to Richland County that have not previously been offered.
One advanced procedure includes the WATCHMAN device where a very small incision is made in the groin area so that a cardiologist can insert a device into the heart. This helps reduce the risk of stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).
Though the procedure has only been available at Mansfield Hospital for seven months, it’s become a great convenience for patients.
“Many of these patients have to be on blood thinners lifelong, and this WATCHMAN procedure is something that we’re now offering in Richland County with investments both in a physician who can do the procedure as well as the actual supplies to do the procedures,” Baumgardner said.
Mansfield Hospital has advanced not only in the number of procedures they do, but also in the way they do procedures.
For the past two years, Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Matthew Bernhard has used a Mako robot to do hip and knee replacements. The technology provides an added level of precision to the procedures that helps improve recovery and helps the patients get back to normal functioning quicker while reducing their hospital stay.
Previously, surgeons would make estimates based on measurements for how to cut, but now technology enhances that accuracy and reduces injury.
“By using computed tomography (CT) guidance and the Mako robots, the surgeon can be much more precise with his or her cutting of the bone during the implant procedure,” Baumgardner said.
Other medical advancements made over the past decade include:
Infusion therapy for multiple sclerosis - Although there’s no cure for multiple sclerosis, over the past couple of years advanced infusion therapy has come out that patients at OhioHealth Mansfield can now receive.
Low dose lung screening - Certain patients at risk for lung cancer based on smoking history qualify for low dose radiation to get the best images. Lung doctors can then follow up in case patients need additional studies in the future.
LINX procedure - Many forms of heartburn are caused by acid from the stomach that refluxes back into your esophagus. The LINX device is a bracelet of magnetic beads that’s implanted around where the esophagus enters the stomach and can expand when someone swallows and keeps that opening closed so that acid won’t come back up. Learn more about the treatment of heartburn and reflux disease in this interview with Elwood R. Martin, MD.
TAVR - Patients who need an aortic valve replacement can now receive TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), which can now be done with a small incision in the leg or chest rather than having open heart surgery. Although it’s not yet offered at Mansfield Hospital, there are plans to add it in the future.
In terms of future advancements, Baumgardner said personalized medicine will make a huge impact over this decade. In personalized medicine, scientific and genetic data is personalized for the patient rather than a “one-size fits all” approach.
With the area of genetics and genomics gaining more traction every day, Baumgardner said it’s led to tremendous advancements in medications and treatments of many diseases.
“I think the area where you see this (personalized medicine) most used right now is in the area of cancer treatment where we use genetic information and tumor markers to really guide therapy,” Baumgardner said. “That field has exploded over the past decade, and that is the area I really see poised over this decade to make huge advancements; not just here locally, but worldwide.”