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COVID patient, his wife and his entire care team on the day he was released from hospital
Mike VanNetten was one of HHS’ sickest COVID patients during wave three of the pandemic. He and his wife, Sarah (centre), are pictured with the many people who cared for him on the day he was well enough to go home, after nearly three months in hospital.
December 14, 2021

2021 Celebrations: Cardiac and ECMO Care


Providing COVID care with ECMO heart-lung bypass machine

The heart-lung bypass machine called an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), is the most aggressive form of life support for patients who are in severe cardiac or respiratory failure. It became a successful part of treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients during 2021. Hamilton Health Sciences’ Hamilton General Hospital was a regional resource for this extremely specialized care, caring for patients from across the province. Read the story of Mike VanNetten, one of HHS’ COVID patients on ECMO during wave three of the pandemic.

This year, HHS featured several stories about heart health, cardiac research and COVID-related heart issues.

As only one of four hospitals in Ontario to provide care using an ECMO machine, HHS’ intensive care units (ICU) filled with critically ill COVID-19 patients during wave three of the pandemic. This meant space was needed for other, non-COVID ICU patients. Since HHS’ Heart Investigation Unit (HIU) is regularly staffed with critical care nurses, the team prepared for wave three by converting part of the space into an ICU. In April, the unit was up and running with a condensed HIU and temporary ICU side by side.

In July, we wrote about a research study that found a new way to detect irregular heartbeats in patients who have undergone a heart procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI). Since an irregular heartbeat is common in these patients, early detection followed by a pacemaker implantation can prevent a trip to the emergency department. After successful study results, the remote monitoring process was implemented for all TAVI patients at HHS.

Did you know that exercise is good for the heart — not only for adults, but kids too? We shared some of the benefits of exercise for kids from a variety of healthcare perspectives.

And finally, as the COVID-19 vaccine was being distributed to youth, HHS created resources about the rare side effect of heart inflammation to help the community better understand this side effect and feel comfortable getting their youth vaccinated.

Read all the 2021 celebration stories this month.