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When Minutes Count

Norman Regional Health Foundation Inviting the Community to Invest in $4 million Equipped for Tomorrow Capital Campaign

(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a five-part series highlighting a chosen area of focus for the Norman Regional Health Foundation’s Equipped for Tomorrow capital campaign.)

When there's a medical emergency, minutes matter. That's why a local Norman family is embracing the addition of Norman Regional Nine to their community.

Reggie Bass is a Norman resident, and tried and true Sooner, known around town for playing two seasons of basketball with the University of Oklahoma in the late nineties. After college, Reggie settled into a fulfilling career and raised a happy and active family with his wife, Cornelia.

On Nov. 8, 2022, the healthy, 47-year-old father of two experienced a life-changing event he never saw coming: a heart attack.

Reggie described the fall day as a normal one. He had gone to work for the day, got home a little early and headed out for one of his regular runs. He was feeling optimistic about his 15-pound weight loss he had recently discovered at a doctor’s visit.

A few minutes into the run, Reggie felt what runners describe as a side stitch, but coming from the middle of his chest. As he began to head home, he saw his wife pulling into the driveway. After he explained the “side stitch." his wife strongly suggests getting him to a hospital.

“At this point, I really can’t catch my breath,” he recalled. “I began to dry heave. My wife suggests we go to the emergency room, and [being a] typical male, I tell her no, I’m fine.”

About five minutes later, Reggie catches his breath, but more importantly, he receives a message. “I hear a small, still, voice say it’s time to go.”

Reggie arrives at the newly opened Norman Regional Nine—a freestanding emergency department that had just opened off Highway 9, making the drive for the east Norman family even quicker.

He arrived experiencing chest pains but says he was still feeling mostly coherent. Within 11 minutes of his arrival, he was diagnosed with a STEMI (heart attack). He was later transferred to the Norman Regional HealthPlex Cath Lab, where he received a stent just in time.

The life-saving interventions would have been delayed if the Bass’ had not been close to an emergency department, where he immediately started receiving medical treatment before being transported to the HealthPlex.  

“It was a blessing. In dealing with a heart attack, seconds matter. That facility being there is a godsend and a great addition to the east Norman community.”

Reggie said that laying in his hospital bed, he began to process that he just had a heart attack and tried to think back on any signs he may have missed. He was active, watched what he ate, and went to all of his medical appointments.

He does have a family history of heart disease. His father struggled with hypertension his entire life and recently passed due to complications. His brother needed a pacemaker at the age of 18. Despite elevated cholesterol, Reggie had no other indications revealed at his latest doctor’s visit, just a week before his heart attack.

He was battling with processing the “why,” but during prayer, he decided to trust God to reveal that later.

“The why could be that now I am meant to spread the importance of knowing your cardiovascular health-related numbers and family history,” he said.

“If nothing else, go get your numbers checked,” he advises. “Go get a heart scan, know if your blood pressure is high, and know if your blood sugar is high—if anything, for peace of mind.”

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in Oklahoma, but research indicates 85% of sudden heart attacks may be prevented through heart imaging for early diagnosis and treatment. 

You can schedule a 10-minute, $50 heart scan at Norman Regional by calling 405.307.2290.

Equipped For Tomorrow: Cardiovascular Care

The Norman Regional Health Foundation is inviting the community to invest in the best heart care possible, close to home through its $4 million Equipped for Tomorrow capital campaign.

When a heart attack happens, minutes matter. Norman Regional cardiovascular services provide more than 6,500 heart cath procedures each year. To equip these services for tomorrow, the campaign will fund more than $1 million toward an additional cath lab at the HealthPlex.

“Heart attack patients require very quick treatment. The longer a patient goes with a clogged artery, the more damage to their heart and the worse they do. It is recommended that we have the artery open within 90 minutes of first contact. That takes a lot of practice, a lot of well-tuned people and processes to make that happen,” said Paul Ayers, M.D., cardiologist and Norman Regional HealthPlex Cath Lab medical director.

“Join me in funding life-saving equipment and improving lives now and in the future," said Sherri Coale, campaign chair. "Make your commitment today toward our $4 million Equipped for Tomorrow Campaign.”

Learn more about the cardiovascular campaign’s initiatives, along with the remaining focus areas for Equipped for Tomorrow, at or call Erin Barnhart 405.307.1077.

 Jennie Melendez, MBA, is a marketing & communications specialist, Integrated Marketing, Norman Regional Health System.

Even if you feel healthy, there are red flags to watch out for, including:

  • Being over age 35 for men and 40 for women
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Reggie Bass
  • Paul Ayers, M.D., cardiologist and Norman Regional HealthPlex Cath Lab medical director
  • Equipped for Tomorrow Campaign Chair Sherri Coale

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