The hospital began construction of a cardiac catheterization laboratory this week. The lab opens in August and will allow for full-time cardiac care and the immediate diagnosis and treatment of a number of heart issues.
“The opening of our cardiac catheterization laboratory is yet another step in our journey to bring new services to this region,” said CVMC chief executive officer Glenn Sisk. “Our guiding compass will be to deliver cardiac services at the highest level which will support favorable patient outcomes.”
Heart catheterization is a procedure used to evaluate the heart and blood vessels to determine if surgery or other treatment is necessary. The procedure can diagnose coronary artery disease, heart and valve defects, cardiomyopathy (heart attack) and congenital abnormalities.
Sisk said diagnostic catheterization has become the gold standard for cardiac care.
“To really meet our patients’ needs at the highest level, we knew we needed a catheterization lab to afford our physicians the resources to accomplish that level of care,” Sisk said.
Andy Gill, CVMC director of imaging and cardiac services, said catheterization is a faster, more precise method of diagnosis than other techniques.
“Before, many people who would come to a catheterization lab would have been given a stress test,” Gill said. “A stress test gives you an idea of where a lack of blood flow may be in the heart, but it can’t pinpoint the vessel, and it can’t fix the problem like we will be able to do in the lab.”
A team of cardiologists from CardioVascular Associates and HeartSouth in Birmingham will staff the lab, along with nurses, radiology technicians and other CVMC employees.
“Our confidence in the cardiologists affiliated with CVMC has under-girded this decision throughout,” Sisk said. “We eagerly anticipate working with our entire medical staff to deliver outstanding care to their patients and our guests.”
Gill said cardiologists insert a heart catheter through the radial artery in the wrist or the femoral artery in the groin area. If a problem is detected, cardiologists can place a stent in the affected artery or recommend other treatment on-the-spot.
Janette Askins, CVMC cardiac catheterization lab team leader, said patients typically visit a catheterization lab for one of two reasons.
“Your primary doctor may recommend you to a cardiologist, who will then determine if catheterization is necessary,” Askins said. “Also, if you come in the Emergency Room with chest pains or other heart-related issues, we will see you.”
The lab is being constructed in an existing area in the hospital’s West Wing. The facility will include areas for express care, testing and recovery. It will also be outfitted with General Electric equipment for imaging and patient monitoring.
CVMC has provided cardiac services through Cardiovascular Associates for about 25 years and HeartSouth for about eight years. The hospital also has a full-time cardiac rehabilitation center that will complement services provided in the catheterization lab.
CVMC chief operating and nursing officer Amy Price said the hospital is excited to expand its cardiac services.
“With this addition, we will be able to provide a full scope of cardiac services, from the diagnosis to treatment to rehab,” Price said. “What is so beneficial about this is people will have the opportunity to stay here as opposed to traveling elsewhere.”
Gill and Askins will attend eight to 10 weeks of training in the catheterization labs at Brookwood and Shelby Baptist medical centers in Birmingham. Other staff members will be trained on-site at CVMC and at other off-site facilities.
“When we open on day one, we want to know we have put the best people in place to care for this community,” Sisk said.
Contact Emily Adams at email@example.com.