Northbay's state-of-the-art cardiovascular operation room

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Ready to Perform

Cardiovascular Surgery Team at Home in New State-of-the-Art Suite

The curtain was raised late one Tuesday afternoon in front of dozens of local luminaries, physicians and NorthBay Healthcare staff. Unveiled and ready for its first operation, the state-of-the-art cardiovascular operating room gleamed under bright lights and high expectations.

The first surgery in the new $4.6 million surgical suite, the most sophisticated in the region and twice the size of a normal operating room, was a success in late April.

“Solano County is no longer without life-saving, advanced cardiac care,” explained Gary Passama, president and chief executive officer. “It was truly absurd for a growing region this size – with an aging population that will need these services more than ever – to be without top-quality heart and vascular services.”

Too many local patients each year travel outside the county to other hospitals for cardiac care. The time and distance is often a matter of life and death.

The surgical suite is a centerpiece of NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center, a new program four years in planning and development. More than 12,000 hours of training and two mock surgeries were part of the preparation.

The program brings to Solano County a host of services offered locally for the first time, including coronary artery bypass, heart valve repair and replacement, and advanced aortic procedures, including the thoracic aorta and peripheral vascular procedures.

NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center incorporates the latest surgical techniques, including so-called “beating heart surgery,” during which the surgeon repairs a heart while it continues to pump blood to the body.

Minimally invasive vein harvesting is another specialty to be performed at NorthBay Medical Center. These new techniques, available only in advanced facilities and at the hands of cardiovascular surgeons with specialized training and experience, will result in fewer complications, smaller scars and shorter hospital stays for patients.

The new center represents a huge step forward in care and a significant financial investment for such a modestly sized, two-hospital system such as NorthBay Healthcare.

“The community need was clear,” according to Deborah Sugiyama, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group, the entity that operates the two hospitals.

“Sending patients outside the county for care always delays treatment,” she noted. “You must first stabilize the patient, then arrange transportation and hospital admission. For some patients, that delay can be life-threatening. Instead, we committed to developing a first-rate heart center, right here, in our community.”

Two of the region’s top surgeons, Dr. Ramzi Deeik and Dr. Robert Klingman, were tapped by NorthBay to partner in developing the cardiac surgeryprogram. They served as consultants in the design and construction of the heart surgery program, as well as the new operating room.

The pair’s extensive cardiac surgery experience includes the development of cardiac surgery programs at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

After dismantling two existing operating rooms to construct a single state-of-the-art surgical suite, NorthBay now possesses a “fully integrated” operating room, explained Dr. Deeik.

Integrated operating rooms pull together the latest in surgical tools and technology. Wearing a wireless headset with a microphone, the surgeon can control specialized equipment with voice commands.

The room will be electronically connected to other areas of the hospital, such as radiology and the laboratory. Digital images (x-rays, MRI and CT scans) taken before surgery can be pulled up from files and viewed on the room’s high-definition TV monitors.

“The information is right there at our fingertips,” said Dr. Deeik.

A nurse will use a computer’s touch screen to control medical equipment, surgical lights, room lights and even the room’s heating and cooling system. Many sources of information – such as ultrasounds, pictures of the current operative field, and vital statistics – can be displayed on large, high-definition TV monitors.

The technology will allow cardiologists and other physicians who have treated the patient to view the surgery in real time. Future connections will give the surgeons the ability to consult with off-site colleagues during a procedure.

Colin Construction of Grass Valley, which specializes in medical facility design, renovation and remodeling, was the general contractor for the project.

By The Numbers


The number of heart patients who leave Solano County each year to undergo surgery or treatment.


In millions of dollars, the cost of planning, construction, equipment and permits for the new cardiovascular surgical suite.


The size, in square feet, of the new cardiovascular operating room, about twice the size of a typical operating room.


The annual number of open-heart surgeries expected to be performed in NorthBay Medical Center within two years.


The number of surgeries to date combined conducted by NorthBay’s cardiovascular surgeons, Dr. Ramzi Deeik and Dr. Robert Klingman.

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