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Nuclear medicine added at Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf

Special to the Star

Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf has become the first healthcare provider in Gulf and Franklin counties to offer nuclear medicine, which provides advanced imaging to diagnose heart diseases such as blocked coronary arteries.

Standing in front of the nuclear medicine scanner are, from left, Eduard VanGelder, nuclear medicine technologist; Shelby King, radiology manager; and Carla Ludlum, echo-vascular technologist.

Nuclear medicine uses radioactive substances to assess organ and tissue function. Patients first ingest or are injected with radioactive isotopes that have no lasting effects. Using specialized cameras to detect and track the path of these radioactive tracers, specialists can then diagnose the function of specific organs throughout the body.

“Nuclear medicine is going to bring the comprehensive care we offer to the next level,” said Robin Godwin, vice president of nursing for Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf. “This advanced technology helps us to get a more complete picture of a patient’s health."

Nuclear medicine is to assess blood flow and the pumping function of the heart. In Port St. Joe, heart care is available through Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart cardiologist Brent Chapman, MD, and cardiology nurse practitioner Richard Petch, ARNP.

"Nuclear medicine does have a strong cardiac focus but it doesn't stop there," said Shelby King, manager of radiology at Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf. "We also provide general nuclear medicine, which is used to diagnose gallbladder disease, thyroid tumors, liver dysfunction, kidney function, blood clot disorders, gastrointestinal bleeding, cancer treatment and infection.

“At our hospital, we will have a strong cardiac focus while providing all of these other uses in general nuclear medicine as well,” he said.

Nuclear medicine also can be used in bone scans to detect orthopedic conditions, including stress fractures, degenerative arthritis, and hip joint prosthesis issues. In Port St. Joe and Apalachicola, orthopedic care is available through orthopedic surgeon Steven Sokoloski, MD, with Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart.

For information about nuclear medicine, please contact your doctor or call the diagnostic center of Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf at 850-229-5680.

Ascension Florida operates seven hospitals and more than 100 other sites of care and employs more than 11,000 associates. Across the region, Ascension Sacred Heart and Ascension St. Vincent’s have served North Florida communities for more than 145 years. In fiscal year 2019, they provided nearly $180 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty.