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Bassett Heart Care Institute celebrates 10 years

By ALLISON NORLIAN

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Bassett Heart Institute celebrated their 10 year anniversary with a heart-healthy breakfast followed by speakers ranging from the hospital's Chief Cardiologist to a patient who underwent life-saving surgery.

The area where the hospital resides and serves lacked a major heart center for a long time. The nearest locations to go for help before Bassett was built were cardiac programs in Utica, Cooperstown, Albany and Schenectady.

The program began in 2003 almost as an experiment to see how well a cardiac center would thrive in a rural area. There were many skeptics, including patients and doctors.

Robert Lancey, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Bassett said even he was a skeptic.

"Heart surgery in a small area like this its actually the second smallest village or town in America...With a heart surgery program and I was skeptical at first too and the real advantage we have is the people we have working with us."

The program has been a success and is the reason thousands of individuals are still alive today.

Patrick McNulty, Chief of Cardiology at the hospital said cardiac centers should be in all areas, not just urban.

"Patients who develop heart disease usually do so in the middle of the night and if they don't have access in their community they may die or be severely disabled."

In the beginning, there were only certain surgeries done. After patient complaints about not wanting to travel far for specialized care, they have expanded their institute and complexity of the procedures they perform.

Tom Morgan, an original patient, a tributes still being around to Bassett.

"They absolutely saved my life in another sense...A couple of doctors intervened on hunches and I think you get certain environments when doctors are allowed to follow their hunches...Bassett was one of those environments had they not followed their hunches I wouldn't be around."

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