HCA Virginia - February 28, 2019
by FXBG Lifestyle

The heart is synonymous with the center. It is the center of our bodies, the center of how we function. It is the powerhouse, pumping blood through our veins to keep us going.

 Interestingly enough, the cardiovascular team at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center is a perfect illustration of this idea as a metaphor: they are at the heart of how the hospital group functions. Comprised of registered cardio interventional specialists (RCIS), registered nurses, nurse practitioners, echocardiographers, and medical doctors—interventional radiologists and interventional cardiologists—the team is led by Shane Bittinger, Director of Cardiovascular Services.

The sense of camaraderie is strong within the walls of this hospital. It’s easy to tell that each member of the team truly cares about one another and supports each other in providing the highest quality of care for their patients.  

cardio family at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center

The Cardio family at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

We’re all in this together

— Shane Bettinger, Director of Cardiovascular Services

“Shane leads his team by recognizing that each member is a valuable piece of the patient’s care plan, and in doing so the entire team functions with a mutual respect, loyalty and individual dignity that shapes an incredible commitment to patient care,” said David McKnight, CEO of Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.  

Staff engagement is paramount for Bittinger. By providing an exceptional support system for his team, they do the same for patients, he said. “If you take care of staff they’ll take care of the patients because ultimately that’s what’s most important. That’s how we build our culture here.”

 With that said, you may be wondering what the cardiovascular team actually does specifically. At Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, this knowledgeable group can treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions, offering cardiovascular services from screenings to diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. Spotsy Regional is home to the only accredited Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) in Spotsylvania County, providing fast, skilled response to potential heart attack. The hospital is equipped with the latest technology and heart attack treatment times are below national averages.

cardio team at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center

Some members of the cardio team at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center.

The patient experience meets three important criteria:

  1. It includes a warm, welcoming environment.
  2. The team always has respect for the patient and their family.
  3. That patient is going to get the best outcomes the team can provide.

Stress Test


Stress tests take place to rule out, or rule in, a possible cardiovascular condition. What’s most important during this is exam is to keep the patient informed and, therefore, calm.

 “Everyone who comes in [for a stress test] is very anxious…Half of the patients don’t want to run on the treadmill, half of them don’t want to get the medicine*, because it [seems] scary,” explained Candace Adams, Cardiology Nurse Practitioner.  That is why “the absolute first thing we do is sit the patient down and start talking to them about the test.”

Just like all of the staff at Spotsylvania Regional, every member of the Cardiology team is committed to attending to each patient’s individual needs. The more a patient knows about what is going to happen during a procedure, the more comfortable they will feel. This all goes back to being the heart of the hospital, caring about their patients and making the experience as comforting as possible.

*The medicine administered for a stress test is Lexiscan, which helps opens up the blood vessels. Any adverse reactions, commonly headache, stomach ache, and shortness of breath, can be alleviated with a reversal agent if they become too intense.

The Echo Lab


An echocardiogram is basically an ultrasound of the heart. Think about when a pregnant woman gets to see the baby growing inside of her through her belly; it is the same idea of the chest with seeing the heart. During an echocardiogram, the patient’s heart is viewed from different areas of the chest. The test in total takes about 20 minutes.

There are several reasons a patient may need an echocardiogram, including:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations (fluttering in the chest)

“The echocardiogram is a good way to show us the function and anatomy of someone’s heart without having be invasive,” said Julie Swart, Registered Cardiovascular Sonographer.

The Echo Lab at Spotsy Regional has recently undergone enhancements with some of the most state-of-the-art cardio technology. 3D imaging and strain imaging are now available, offering more thorough examinations of the heart when necessary.

happy team

A happy team means happy patients.

“Each team member has been empowered to understand that their relationship with the patient is paramount,” McKnight added. “As leaders we want our entire team to see patients as part of our family, and to feel comfortable taking the time to discuss their care plan and address any concerns.”

Click here to learn more about cardiac care on the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center website.