The Times West Virginian

December 20, 2013

New FGH procedure ‘will save lives’

Large gift from Heine’s estate helps fund navigational bronchoscopy system

By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont General Hospital Foundation board of directors announced Thursday that they surpassed their campaign goal of $129,000 for the purchase of a navigational bronchoscopy system, raising $162,000 as of Thursday.

A large gift was granted by the estate of the late Norma Heine. Heine, a longtime FGH volunteer who started volunteering in 1980, was active in the Volunteer Association for 21 years, and was a founding board member of the Fairmont General Hospital Foundation.

Whitney Rae Hatcher, FGH Foundation coordinator, said that the gift was a pleasant surprise.

“You never know how someone will leave their legacy, and she chose to leave a large portion of her legacy to Fairmont General,” Hatcher said. “Heine was very special to the hospital, had many years of service, and really donated a large portion of her life to the hospital.”

Heine logged in more than 20,000 volunteer hours at FGH over the years, and was president of the FGH Volunteer Association for three consecutive terms.

Other donors were instrumental to the FGH Foundation surpassing their goal, Hatcher said. In addition to corporate gifts, volunteer contributions, employee contributions and annual givers, the FGH Foundation put out a year-end appeal mailing asking for donations. It received 24 gifts between Monday and Tuesday.

“It shows that people are invested in the community, and that they want to help when they can,” Hatcher said.

While the foundation has surpassed its goal, any additional donations it receives will go toward purchasing a therapeutic scope to go along with the navigational bronchoscopy equipment.

Navigational bronchoscopy is used in the detection of lung cancer. Dr. Prasad Devabhaktuni, medical director of the FGH Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, said that this method is less invasive than other methods.

“The old method is basically a biopsy from the outside with a needle. There is a higher risk of puncturing the lung and collapsing the lung, but with the new equipment the risk would be minimal,” Devabhaktuni said.

The new procedure takes between 40 minutes and an hour, and can be done as an outpatient procedure. Devabhaktuni said that the procedure is also more localized and more accurate.

“This is a technology that increases our ability to diagnose lung cancer early, and it greatly improves the diagnosis, and makes treatment plans more accurate,” Devabhaktuni said. “It’s important in this area because West Virginia has one of the highest rates for lung cancer incidence.”

“Ultimately, it will save lives in Marion County,” Hatcher said.

FGH performed its first two navigational bronchoscopy procedures Thursday morning.

“They went very well,” Devabhaktuni said.

Fundraising for the navigational bronchoscopy began April 10 of this year.

“Dr. Devabhaktuni came to us and told us about what great technology it was, and the price of it,” Hatcher said. “It was really a perfect fit. Everyone wants to help people detect cancer earlier.”

Originally, the navigational bronchoscopy system was set to cost the hospital $180,000, but the vendor, Minneapolis-based superDimension, cut the price down to $129,000, shaving $51,000 from the final price tag.

The gift from Norma Heine’s estate helped bring the campaign beyond their goal.

“We’re just so thankful for Norma’s foresight and envisioning this gift,” Hatcher said. “What a great way for her to be remembered, and what a great legacy she has left us.”

Peggy Coster, interim president and CEO of FGH, said that being able to exceed the fundraising goal was a great accomplishment.

“Being able to actually surpass our goal is great for the hospital, and for patients in Marion County,” Coster said. “The foundation has done a phenomenal job in raising this money to assist the hospital in their mission to take care of patients in Marion County.

“We hope that the use of this machine will help us to be able to detect cancer earlier and save more lives.”

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.