Billings Clinic announced plans Wednesday to build a new $3.2 million facility for stroke patients.
One reason: Stroke patients in Billings sometimes have to travel to Denver for a life-saving procedure called interventional stroke treatment.
Doctors and a patient talked about the treatment in the hospital's Healing Garden.
"I ended up being parked north of Rimrock Road," John Roberts, a Billings Clinic patient said. "I have no idea how I got there. I do remember the EMT person, how kind he was. He said, 'you're having a stroke,' and it was the first time that I heard the stroke word in those two hours for all the people that helped me. And then it clicked. That was the first time I realized that there was something wrong. I really just thought I was really tired."
Roberts suffered a stroke on Feb. 22.
Doctors had him flown to Swedish Medical Center in Colorado, just south of Denver.
"It's really weird," he said. "I never did have any anxiety. But when I came out of surgery, I just, I felt so good. I have no side effects. It's an amazing procedure."
"It's also attributed to the, to the staff here," said Janice Roberts, John's wife.
To help patients like Roberts, Billings Clinic is bringing in a new machine, and a new facility that will potentially save time and save lives.
"We're getting state-of-the-art equipment that is going to enable us to perform interventional treatment in a timely fashion to prevent disability and death from stroke," said Dr. Scott Ellner, Billings Clinic CEO. "This is an amazing opportunity given that there was no piece of equipment like this within several hundred miles of Billings."
Dr. Mark Piedra explained interventional stroke treatment.
"Send a small catheter up into the brain, into the clot that's blocking an artery, causing the stroke and remove that clot," Piedra said. "It's an incredible treatment. It saves lives. It prevents disability."
"From the bottom of our hearts to every donor who has given to our organization, and saying, 'you know, we trust you to do what's best and what you need the most with our gift,' we say thank you to them," said Jim Duncan, Billings Clinic Foundation president.
"There's a lot of pluses for this community to have this kind of program here," John Roberts said.
A doctor trained in the therapy will arrive in July.
The facility will be ready sometime after that on the bottom floor of the hospital in what has been the radiology suite.