Donors experience the fruit of their giving


Impact investing is one of the latest movements in philanthropy. It’s what motivated Don and Marie Belcher of Pauma Valley, California to invest $200,000 in Palomar Health’s Heart and Vascular Center.

“I don’t know if you can make a better investment than saving lives,” Don Belcher said as he addressed a gathering of fellow philanthropists who collectively donated $600,000 to purchase two 4-D cardiovascular ultrasound systems and four stress test systems. The philanthropists took a tour of the Heart and Vascular Center on Monday to see their investment in action.

“It’s really exciting to see this in person,” Belcher said as he watched Palomar Health Cardiovascular Sonographer George Herrera demonstrate a 4-D image of the Mitro heart valve on the new machine. 

“You can prevent (medical staff) from having to go back in to fix something you missed (the first time).”

The 4-D machines will improve heart defect detection up to 40% in some areas, says retired Cardiologist and Palomar Health Board Member Dr. Douglass Moir. The crystal clear, real-time images of the new machine allow medical staff to see the heart in ways only possible by opening the chest just a few years ago.

According to Dr. Moir there are three specific ways the 4-D machine will improve patient outcomes:

1. Speed: Physicians will be able to process information more quickly

2. Accuracy: Physicians will get more information from a given study

3. Improved device placement: Devices such as valves and catheters will be placed with more precision without opening the chest

An added benefit of the new machines is reduced weight.

“It’s reducing the wear and tear on our bodies, too,” Herrera said. “It’s 200 pounds lighter than the old machine.”

The stress test machines are wireless and paperless; no more connecting patients to machines via wires and printing EKG results. Palomar Health Nurse Practitioner Mary Russell says test results are transmitted automatically into the patient’s electronic medical record and the referring physician can review the reports instantaneously without waiting for scanned hardcopy reports. The new stress test machines include treadmills.  

Don Belcher said he and Marie have been patients in just about every part of the hospital except cardiology, “but if it comes to that we know we will get the best of care just like we always have with everything else.”

Photo: Palomar Health donors Don and Marie Belcher, Walter Wong and Stephanie Matthews learn about the features of the new stress test machine at Palomar Medical Center Escondido.

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