Shelby Baptist opens its heart – Calera man gets first open heart surgery

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004

History was made last Thursday when a 48-year-old Calera man received the first open heart surgery at Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster.

Dr. L. Shefton Riggins, a cardiovascular surgeon at SBMC, performed an aortic valve replacement on Alvin Ray Ford.

Riggins joked that 24 hours later Ford, who was sitting up watching TV last Friday, was watching the United States basketball team lose to Argentina in the Olympics.

Ford said he felt fine except that he was sore. And Riggins said that if everything continued, Ford would be discharged within 72 hours of the surgery for a six to eight-week recovery at home.

Riggins said before the surgery, Ford was in a deteriorating condition, but he said his patient should now have a good prognosis.

Ford first visited his primary care physician, Dr. Clagette Collins, who determined that his condition was cardiac-related.

Collins referred Ford to cardiologist Dr. Dale Elliott, who determined surgical intervention was necessary, and referred Ford to Riggins, the surgeon.

Riggins said the surgery took about two hours on Thursday morning.

He said Friday that the open heart program at SBMC continues to grow and that a second heart surgery was scheduled for this past Monday.

Ford, who has been married to his wife, Dianne, since 1977, has two daughters, Toya Renee McDade, 27, and Felicia Ford, 23.

He said having the surgery at SBMC was convenient as he lives in Calera and that he would recommend the hospital to others.

April Holcomb, director of marketing and planning at Baptist Shelby, said even though the open hear program is new at the hospital, the physicians have been seeing the hospital’s patients for many years.

Baptist Shelby president Chuck Colvert was pleased with the introduction of open heart surgery services to SBMC. Colvert, along with other hospital and local officials, worked diligently for several years to bring these services to the Shelby County hospital.

&uot;The open heart surgery program complements our existing cardiology services at Baptist Shelby and utilizes many of the physicians and trained clinicians now on staff. Their experience and expertise will serve our patients and community well in this new program,&uot; he said

Riggins described Ford following his surgery as &uot;marvelous.&uot;

And he said of the significance of the first open heart surgery at Baptist Shelby, &uot;It now opens the doors for citizens of Shelby County to receive open heart surgery care at home.&uot;

Riggins has been a surgeon in the Baptist Health System for 20 years and has performed about 4,000 open heart surgeries. He is the former chief of surgery at Baptist Princeton and former director of cardiac surgery there.

Colvert added, of the first for the hospital, &uot;The big thing, it is for this community. This will give this community a complete service hospital.&uot;

Baptist Shelby currently provides patients with

diagnostic and treatment services for heart-related problems. Cardiac catheterization, cardiac angioplasty, arterial Doppler evaluations, pacemaker surgical implants and cardiac rehabilitation are among the cardiology services available at Baptist Shelby.

According to the hospital, as the population in Shelby County has grown significantly, the need for emergent cardiac services has also increased.

In cardiac care, &uot;time is muscle,&uot; officials said, meaning there is a point in time in which medical intervention will be unable to reverse damage to heart muscle. Providing open heart services in Shelby County will assist in eliminating unnecessary critical care transfers, making these vital services available to patients in a more timely manner.

&uot;The residents of our community were instrumental in bring this vital service to Baptist Shelby. For their support, we express our deepest appreciation,&uot; Colvert said.

&uot;We take seriously our mission as a compassionate and comprehensive healthcare provider, and we will continue to grow our faith-based ministry to meet the needs of those we serve.&uot;

Roberta Adams, sister of the first open heart surgery patient at Baptist Shelby was pleased after seeing him Friday.

&uot;I think he is doing great,&uot; she said, &uot;I didn’t have any thoughts other than he would be doing great since this is my hospital.&uot;

Adams, now retired, worked for the hospital in Alabaster for 21 years as a registered nurse.

She said the people and the physicians are great.

Baptist Shelby is a growing 192-bed acute care facility in Alabaster with more than 1,100 employees. The hospital offers a comprehensive range of clinical services, including cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, neurology and gastroenterology along with specialized medical and surgical care. It’s emergency department is one of the most utilized in the state with 45,000 visits projected this year.

Holcomb said an appreciation tea for supporters of the hospital who helped achieve this goal is set for Sunday, Sept. 12 from 2 until 4 p.m. at the hospital’s community center