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Patient, family grateful for rapid, record-breaking response time by EMS, hospital doctors, nurses

HARLINGEN, April 2023 A Valley man received a potentially life-saving heart procedure within 21 minutes of arriving at Harlingen Medical Center —  with the rapid, record-breaking response time by hospital doctors, nurses and EMS staff resulting in a significantly better outcome for the patient.

The patient, from the San Benito area, had a blocked artery, which resulted in severe chest pain.  The patient was transported by ambulance to Harlingen Medical Center, where he was attended to very quickly, according to the patient’s wife.

Dr. Eduardo Flores, Cardiologist with the South Heart Clinic in Harlingen performed the life-saving cardiac catheterization procedure.  In many cases, these procedures involve inflating a tiny balloon to open an artery which has been clogged by fatty substances such as plaque and cholesterol (angioplasty).

Rapid response to emergencies in the Harlingen / San Benito area is made possible by heroic emergency medical services teams with the South Texas Emergency Care Foundation, Inc. (STEC).

While many hospitals aim for a “door-to-balloon” time of 90 minutes or less, team work between EMS and the physicians and staff at Harlingen Medical Center enabled that goal to be achieved in less than a quarter of the target time.

“This record-breaking door-to-balloon time was made possible by rapid EMS diagnosis of a heart attack in progress, a pre-hospital EKG with proper diagnosis by the emergency medical technicians, and transmitting of the EKG to the ER of Harlingen Medical Center,” Dr. Flores said.

“I was handed the EKG and hurried to the emergency room of Harlingen Medical Center, to be surprised by the fact that the patient was not (yet) in the ER!” Dr. Flores added. “The cath lab team and I waited for the patient to arrive and hurried him to the cath lab without delay.  We achieved a Cameron County record-breaking door-to-balloon time (balloon opening of the blocked heart artery) in just 21 minutes.”

Dr. Flores said this would not have been possible without the EMS team, EKG technology in the field and transmitting technology.  “Hats off to STEC (South Texas Emergency Care),” he added.

In honor of the EMS’ outstanding performance and dedication, Harlingen Medical Center recognized STEC emergency medical technicians with a plaque for “high standards of excellence” and for “going above and beyond in customer service.”

The patient’s wife said she was very happy with the way her husband was treated, and that the care that he received at Harlingen Medical was “very good”.

Harlingen Medical Center News photo - Harlingen Medical Center

The Cardiovascular Center at Harlingen Medical Center is led by some of the most distinguished cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons in South Texas. In fact, during 2021 and 2022, Harlingen Medical Center was named one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the nation by Fortune and IBM Watson Health.

In addition, for a second straight year, Harlingen Medical Center has been recognized as a 2023 Patient Safety Excellence Award™ recipient by Healthgrades, a national healthcare information company.  This distinction places Harlingen Medical among the top 5% of hospitals in the nation for patient safety, as evaluated by Healthgrades.

The award-winning hospital provides advanced cardiac and vascular interventions, such as angioplasty, stenting, cardiac ablation, open-heart surgery, minimally-invasive heart valve repair and replacement, coronary artery bypass graft,  thoracic aneurysm repair, and abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, as well as minimally-invasive diagnostic testing and treatment.

In addition, Harlingen Medical Center offers a screening which can help determine if patients may be at risk for heart disease.  The “Heart Saver” CT Scan is available for a special price of $75 at the hospital’s outpatient imaging center, with appointments available by calling (956) 365-1839. 

To learn more about specialized heart procedures at Harlingen Medical Center, please call (956) 365-1042 or visit