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Published on August 21, 2017

Butch Halama

Team approach gives Whitehall business owner another chance in life

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 9, Eugene "Butch" Halama, Jr. and his family were moving furniture when Butch felt pain like a bowling ball hit his chest.

"It was so sudden that I thought I pulled a muscle," remembers Butch, who is well-known in the Whitehall area as the owner of WHTL Radio. "I rested for a few minutes hoping the pain would go away, but instead the pain got worse, and I began sweating profusely."

Butch's wife, Cindy, decided to take him to Gundersen Tri-County Hospital and Clinics in Whitehall to get checked. "My chest hurt so bad that I didn't put up a fight and agreed to go to the ER," he says.

Butch was seen by Gundersen Tri-County Whitehall Emergency Room physician Lucas Hammell, DO. Dr. Hammell examined Butch and determined Butch was having a heart attack. Dr. Hammell contacted Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse to initiate Priority One.

The Gundersen Priority One Heart Attack Program removes time barriers to get a heart attack patient's blocked artery open as quickly as possible. Partnering healthcare facilities, like Gundersen Tri-County, stabilize the patient and call Gundersen in La Crosse to activate the Priority One team. When the patient arrives in La Crosse, an expert team is waiting to provide treatment. Butch was flown to La Crosse, where he was taken directly to surgery.

Gundersen cardiologist Mir Subla, MD, discovered that Butch's right artery was 100 percent blocked. He opened the artery and inserted a stent to keep Butch's artery open and reduce his chance of another heart attack. By Sunday evening, Butch was recovering in Gundersen's Coronary Care Unit.

"Dr. Subla told Cindy that it was a good thing she took me to the ER when she did because if I didn't received medical attention when I did, I may not have survived," explains Butch.

After two nights in the hospital, Butch returned home and began Cardiac Rehab the next week at Gundersen Tri-County in Whitehall.

"Being able to receive my rehab less than one mile from work has been so convenient and saved me a lot of travel time," Butch says. "My whole experience has been great. From the ER at Gundersen Tri-County to the staff in La Crosse to my Cardiac Rehab team in Whitehall, they have all helped me return to enjoying my life."

Gundersen Tri-County Hospital and Clinics offers a wide variety of services for the entire family close to home. For a complete list of services, go to gundersenhealth.org/tri-county.