PMC heart center celebrates 10 years

It has been 10 years since Dr. Art Edgerton became the first surgeon to perform open-heart surgery in Rock Hill.

As Piedmont Medical Center celebrated the 10th anniversary of the hospital's Heart and Vascular Center last week, Edgerton said helping heal his neighbors in Rock Hill has been the highlight of the past decade.

"The real investment has always been the one we've made in the people," Edgerton said to a room of doctors, nurses and former patients. "It's been a privilege to operate here."

While open-heart surgeries have been commonplace for decades, Edgerton, who still operates at Piedmont, said helping people get treatment for heart disease without being forced to drive to Charlotte or Columbia has made a difference for patients.

"When you see people who have a change in their life being able to live life, play golf and be with their families, that's why we're here," he said.

Rock Hill native Tommy Miller is one of those people. Miller, 65, successfully recovered from a double-bypass surgery at Piedmont this spring. He said having access to the necessary services in his hometown allowed him to recover with his family by his side.

"It's tough when your family has to travel and stay somewhere else just to see you," he said.

Piedmont's Heart and Vascular Center also has received good reviews from the Hospital Quality Alliance, a group that teams with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to rate hospitals. The Alliance recently gave Piedmont a 96.1 quality score for its treatment of heart attacks, compared with the 94.5 national average.

Piedmont CEO Charlie Miller said Piedmont recently added three new heart labs, and became the first hospital in Upstate South Carolina to use a 64-slice CT scanner, a special device that takes a clear picture of a patient's heart and illustrates problems without involving more invasive procedures.

Miller said the new technology demonstrates PMC's plans to continue to making heart medicine a priority in the future.

"Being local helps the healing process," he said.