Heart House, a unique educational resource center for the study of the human cardiovascular system was dedicated in a ceremony this week at the building's wooded 10-acre site on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda.
According to the members of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) the professional society that will operate the facility, it is the first of its kind.
"Cardiology is particularly demanding of technical display," explained Dr Samuel M. Fox, a past resident of the ACC. "It's hard to teach people stethoscopic methods and heartbeat sound."
Facilities in Heart House will do all that plus provide a 67-seat lecture hall where the audio-visual equipment on each chair allows a person to listen to a lecturer as well as hear a heartbeat and feel pulsation.
The 800 guests at the dedication included cardiologists and their spouses from across the country and the business people who demand $43 million of the $5 million needed to build and begin operation of Heart House.
The cardiologists chose the Bethesda location because it was close to other established medical centers.
"Some five blocks away is the largest repository of medical books in the world," said Dr. Dean Mason. president of the Acc, referring to the National Library of Medicine." There are five medical schools in the area, and the U.S. Naval Medical Center is nearby."
And the National Institutes of Health was assuming more and more importance as we were talking about locations in 1968," explained an ACC past president Dr. Forest H. Adams.
"I would guess the local residents feel this is better than having town-houses around them." Montgomery County Council president John L. Menke commented.
Students and doctors will participate in various programs at the center. Twenty-two have already been scheduled according to president-elect of the ACC. Dr. Leonard Dreofus.
"The program deal will all phases of heart diseases." he said. "Doctor will research educational techniques and experiment with ways to better deliver material."
"Harvey," the $94,500 heart disease doll, donated by the Alcoa Foundation, will be a major part of the teaching experimentation. Harvey, a life-sized plastic dummy who feels remarkably fleshy, has variable heartbeats that can amplified to sound like stereophonic drum beats.
According to Dr. Michael S. Gordon, his mentor and director of the project to construct Harvey, the doll can be programmed with symptoms of any possible heart problem, although he comes with an already established set of 40 cassette-recorded patholigical heartbeats.
"He can have a plain of heart attack, a murmur, congenital holes in the heart, or rheumatic heart disease," said Gordon.
When Harvey is programmed, the pulses can actually be felt in his neck, his chest, and other parts of his body. "It's a whole package of information," Gordon said. "It teaches skills - the feelies. I'd love to just to show you the veins. The heart will move. You can feel all this."
The resources of Heart House and how well they will accomplish their teaching functions are being watched carefully, according to Fox.
"Emergency medical physicians who have to teach huge numbers of non-professionals in cardio-pulmanry techniques are very interested," he said.