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EAST CHICAGO — A major investment in life-saving cardiac care at St. Catherine Hospital is being hailed as a victory for East Chicago.

The long-standing hospital in the Indiana Harbor neighborhood landed a $1.5 million federal grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration to improve health care access for people who are medically vulnerable or underinsured.

U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan helped line up the money and helped announce the investment.

“Today is a victory for the residents of East Chicago because it’s access to health care,” he said. “I was born at St. Catherine Hospital. My grandparents were taken here. My mom and dad were cared for here. My sister was a candy striper here and went on to become a nurse practitioner for Northwestern. This was and still is an anchor for the community.”

East Chicago leaders were concerned about the hospital’s future after Franciscan Health decided to close the similarly aged former St. Margaret Hospital in neighboring Hammond, Northwest Indiana’s most populous city.

“They wanted to make sure the safety-net hospital continued,” he said. “What today is about is assuring the city of East Chicago and every resident that St. Catherine is thriving and investing in new technology that gives them access to care equal to anywhere around the world. This is an investment in East Chicago itself, and it allows the residents to understand they have access to quality care here in the city.”

When Mrvan was North Township trustee, he often heard complaints from residents that they didn’t have access to care.

“This is a safety-net hospital. That means it takes care of the most vulnerable populations,” he said. “This technology is the gold standard for Northwest Indiana. It’s the same technology you would have in the city of Chicago, but it’s right here in East Chicago. The hospital is working to provide world-class health care. As a congressman, I will listen to your concerns and try to provide access to health care, the best technology and the best for East Chicago.”

St. Catherine CEO Leo Correa said the hospital continues to provide advanced technology to East Chicago and surrounding communities.

“St. Catherine Hospital is committed to ensuring that our community has state-of-the-art cardiac care close to home,” Correa said. “It’s a well-known fact that in the 1960s, St. Catherine Hospital became the choice facility in the Chicagoland area for the treatment of heart disease, performing the first open-heart surgery in Northwest Indiana. And today, we continue to invest in cardiac care and treating heart disease.”

The hospital will install an Azurion 7 C20 Catalyst table, an image-guided therapy system that provides high-quality images with low doses of X-rays. Philips Healthcare is installing the new technology in its cath lab, which is undergoing a multiphase modernization project.

It will allow for precision diagnosis and treatment for patients. The new technology can capture uncommon angiography views, provide real-time 3-D impressions for complex vascular interventions and better visualize stent and balloon placement in coronary arteries.

“Our patients and clinicians benefit from the fast procedure times, reduced radiation exposure and superior image quality of this new technology,” said Mary Miller, director of Cardiovascular Services.

St. Catherine Hospital has long placed an emphasis on cardiac care while serving the community for nearly a century, Correa said.

“During that time, we built a reputation for providing unparalleled cardiac care,” he said. “That did not happen by chance. That’s the result of an intentional investment in top health care providers and resources.

“We have fortified a culture of excellence in cardiac care by continuing to invest in skilled specialists and technologies to diagnose and treat heart disease. St. Catherine, along with our fellow hospitals in Community Healthcare System, Community Hospital in Munster and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, operates one of the largest and most advanced cardiovascular programs in Northwest Indiana. Our hospitals are certified chest-pain centers that are fully accredited by the Joint Commission or the American College of Cardiology.

“Every day, highly skilled cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, electrophysiologic and cardiac support staff walk through our doors and use their expertise to treat patients who put their trust in us.”

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