“There has never been a better time to live well and access excellent healthcare in St. George and southwestern Utah,” said Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center Administrator Mitch Cloward. “We are located amid the most beautiful scenery in the world, surrounded by a very supportive community with more talented, caring staff and resources available to help patients than ever before.”
KC Heaton and his family agree. KC knew he had a spot on his brain. It had been there for as long as he could remember, and he wasn’t too concerned about it. But then he started having seizures.
KC and his wife, Kayla, went to Dixie Regional’s emergency department for answers. “They did an MRI,” KC said. “Back in 2009 the spot on my brain was about the size of a quarter. This time it was the size of a tennis ball.”
KC and Kayla were referred to a neurosurgeon at Intermountain Southern Utah Neurosciences Institute, Dr. Jotham Manwaring. His diagnosis? KC had a type of primary brain tumor called a grade II astrocytoma. He needed surgery to have it removed.
“I was nervous, but I was more nervous for afterward,” KC said. “What was the outcome going to be?” The couple pulled together and decided the best way to face their fears was learning everything they could as they moved forward.
“We’ve been really impressed with Dr. Manwaring,” Kayla said. “He’s really down to earth and easy to talk to. He answered all of our questions. He’s really nice and we became really confident with him.”
Dr. Manwaring takes the weight of each patient’s situation to heart. He explained, “You have this individual on the table, you’ve taken the skull away and then you have this one last layer to open up and underneath you have this person’s brain — this thing that drives who they are and what they do. We use a special electrode that allows us to lay it along the surface of the brain and detect where the motor area is and where the sensory area is. Once we’ve localized those areas we know where we can go and where we can’t go. And then we bring in a microscope and using a little suction and some dissectors we start taking away certain areas of the brain that are involved in the tumor.”
Dixie’s expansion has now added an interoperative magnetic resonance imaging suite, that will help Dr. Manwaring and other neurosurgeons have even greater confidence that the maximum amount of brain tumor possible has been removed. Because the iMRI is located immediately adjacent to the operating suite, a brain tumor patient can now be seamlessly glided from the operating table into the MRI during the surgery. The MRI can then reveal – while the surgical site is still open – any remaining tumor that may still need to be removed.
Although the iMRI suite was not completed for KC’s surgery, his outcomes are good. Months later he has completed neuro-rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and returned to his normal activities. He is back to work and enjoying the life he loves with Kayla and their 1-year-old daughter, Paige.
In addition to bringing new services like the iMRI suite, Dixie Regional’s expansion has created room to accommodate the area’s rapid growth. The project also allows location of all clinical services at River Road. Care that has previously been based on the 400 East Campus for women and children, neuro-specialty rehabilitation, cancer, and behavioral health will now all be located at River Road. The project added 500,000 square feet of new space at an investment of $300 million.
Other key features of the River Road Campus include:
• Intermountain Precision Genomics, which is now based in the new Intermountain Cancer Center of St. George. Precision genomics is extending the life and improving the quality of life for late stage cancer patients.
• Ability to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement in addition to open-heart surgery. This means many heart valves can now be replaced in the new hybrid angiography suite without having to surgically open the chest. Other less invasive heart procedures are also planned for the suite in the future. For example, heart doctors will begin doing implantation of the Watchman Device in coming months, which can reduce the risk of stroke for some patients.
• Recently earned Level II trauma certification which means the hospital can care for critically injured trauma patients and provides tertiary level services including open-heart surgery, newborn intensive care, brain and spine surgery.
• A rapidly growing LiVe Well Center that helps clients focus on healing. The LiVe Well Center staff helps people get well, stay well, and live well for the rest of their lives.
• Strong community support. Hundreds of local donors have come together to provide millions of dollars in support of advancing services.
“Thank you, for all you do to help us achieve our mission to help people live the healthiest lives possible,” Cloward said. “That mission is at the heart of all we do, and we hope you will let us know how we may better serve you and our community. We are here for you.”
The public is invited to celebrate the expansion of healthcare services from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 12. “A few respected leaders will speak,” said Cloward, “including KC Heaton, who cut the ribbon. Then we’ll kick back and enjoy about 40 minutes of beautiful Piano Guys hits and fireworks. We’re so grateful this amazing group of talented musicians are willing to come perform for us.”
Opening Night will be held in the new tiered parking lot across the street east of the Dixie Regional Health & Performance Center at 652 S. Medical Center Drive. Seating is summer casual – bring lawn chairs and/or blankets to sit on. There is no charge. In case of inclement weather, this event will be held in the DSU Burns Arena.
The Piano Guys started locally and have grown together in worldwide popularity through their classically influenced instrumentals and music videos that showcase incredible locations. Those interested in attending a full-length concert will be pleased to learn the group will be performing at Tuacahn November 8-10.
On September 13 at 5 p.m. a Growing Together Ceremony will commemorate the two hospital campuses becoming one. Self-guided tours will be offered from 3-7 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday.
Dixie Regional Medical Center has expanded its services and features to keep pace with the expanding St. George community.