NorthBay Medical Center is now home to two cardiac catheterization labs, which does a lot more than just double cardiologists’ ability to schedule and treat patients.
It means new procedures, new equipment, additional staff and improved efficiencies, says Kim Williamson R.N., director of Cardiology Services.
After a roughly $5 million investment, NorthBay Medical Center opened its second cardiac catheterization lab in August 2013. The new lab is specifically focused on cardiac procedures, while the older lab handles cardiac as well as vascular procedures.
Having two labs means one can host routine procedures, such as diagnostic heart catheterizations and the placement of stents in arteries while the other lab can be scheduled for longer cases, such as vascular procedures and cardiac implants, which can take up to several hours.
“It gives us much more flexibility, when an emergency comes in the door,” says Williamson.
With this new lab, NorthBay physicians are now “stenting” or opening chronic coronary artery occlusions. Chronic Total Occulsions or “CTO”s occurs when an artery has been blocked with plaque longer than three months.
“It’s tougher to work through the blockage,” explains Williamson, “and requires a more complex treatment.”
Another new tool is the Impella catheter, which has a tiny pump at one end. In a procedure performed by the physician, the catheter is guided to the heart from the groin. It pulls up to 4 liters of blood per minute from the left ventricle and delivers it into the patient’s ascending aorta for circulation throughout the body.
It eases the burden on the heart while doctors address significant issues such as heart failure, a massive heart attack or cardiogenic shock.
And, as of Jan. 1, physicians are using the lab to place pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, instead of having to schedule time in a surgery suite.