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Regarding the emergency room at Saddleback Hospital San Clemente, I hope the following information will help clarify one issue. Public concern appears to revolve around the possible lack of a nearby ER if MemorialCare’s plans are implemented. There seems to be confusion that paramedics would then need to bypass San Clemente and take critical patients to Mission Viejo or Laguna Hills. If the patient is a heart attack victim, the paramedics have been bypassing San Clemente for years since the hospital does not have (and never has had) the most important service needed to treat a heart attack: the catheterization lab. The cath. lab has specialized equipment that interventional cardiologists and supporting team members need to remove coronary clots, to place stents and possibly pacemakers and defibrillators.
Thus, converting the hospital to a first class outpatient facility and an urgent care will most likely not have any effect on heart attack victims. Full disclosure: I worked part time at SC hospital (pharmacist) until 2012. Two years ago I suffered a severe MI (heart attack) at home and am alive today because the paramedics stabilized and transported me directly to Mission where I was treated in the ER and sent immediately to the Cath Lab for clot removal and a stent. So perhaps I have a unique perspective on the issue.