COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Learn More

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

David's Story

Heart & Vascular Care
“They were calling the cath lab when suddenly Dad just fell over backward, and his face went white. And he ... well, he died then,” Baron said. “I screamed for help, and the nurses came running in and started CPR immediately, put oxygen on him, used the defibrillator a few times, everything. ”

A new year, a revived heart

CentraCare Health – Melrose hailed the New Year in a big way. Before the sun rose on Jan. 1, 2014, hospital staff snatched Grey Eagle native David Van Heel, 67, from the grips of prolonged cardiac arrest. 

Baron Van Heel, 21, raced his dad to the hospital in Melrose citing chest pains. After an EKG indicated a heart attack, staff initiated STEMI-SC, CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center’s rapid transfer program. One phone call to the STEMI-SC number triggers a step-by-step protocol that results in prompt transfer of heart attack victims to one of four cardiac catheterization laboratories at St. Cloud Hospital.

“They were calling the cath lab when suddenly Dad just fell over backward, and his face went white. And he ... well, he died then,” Baron said. “I screamed for help, and the nurses came running in and started CPR immediately, put oxygen on him, used the defibrillator a few times, everything.”

After 35 minutes of manual compressions, Certified Nurse Practitioner Sheila Wing approached Baron with a disconcerting prognosis. She said the chances of a comeback were slim, and even then, severe brain damage was nearly certain.

“I just told them to keep trying. If there’s any chance at all, don’t stop,” Baron said. “I was not ready to be without a dad. I don’t want to knowwhat it’s like without him anytime soon.”

When the helicopter arrived, the medical team hooked David to the LUCAS™ 2 Chest Compression System, which pumps blood into the brain and heart more efficiently than manual compressions. After another 19 minutes of compressions, David’s heart resumed the fight.

Moments later, the Life Link helicopter was bound for St. Cloud Hospital. Upon arrival, a 100 percent artery blockage prompted Cardiologist Bernard Erickson, MD, to insert a single stent — not far from the two that were inserted 13 years prior. David is a four-time heart attack survivor.

David was moved to the Cardiac Care Unit where he was put into a medically induced coma to preserve brain function. Staff then administered therapeutic hypothermia, cooling David’s body to 92.3 degrees for 24 hours and rewarming him over a 12-hour period.

Few patients make a complete recovery after more than 30 minutes of unconsciousness, but David’s heart, brain and kidneys sustained no apparent damage — an exceptionally rare outcome.

Since its beginning in 2004, more than 3,000 patients from 25 hospitals within 100 miles of St. Cloud have benefited STEMI-SC. The program’s success rate for opening arteries exceeds99  percent.

“The quicker we diagnose, stabilize, transport and open arteries, the more heart muscle and lives we can save,” said Cardiologist Richard Aplin, MD, STEMI-SC medical director at the CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center. “I’m proud of the dedication shown by everyone involved. Staff devote their lives to this program, being on call 24 hours a day, every day, including weekends and holidays.”