MOUNT VERNON — Many community members and special guests attended Sunday’s open house for the newly renovated and expanded Center for Cardiovascular Care at Knox Community Hospital.
The showpiece of the center is the new cardiac catheterization lab with state-of-the-art digital imaging equipment with a wide screen and futuristic control center. The x-ray/imaging machine is the only one in Central Ohio with two arms — one for heart scans, one for peripheral vascular scans.
“We’ll take pictures of any artery in the body that ties into the heart,” Steve Hack, director of cardiovascular services told the News. “We do the whole cardiovascular system as far as imaging goes. It’s not just heart it’s total hemodynamics (blood circulation).”
The old lab is still functional and that means wait time is reduced and emergency patients can be treated even if a scheduled procedure is in progress. Nurses who work in the unit have been trained specifically for the cardiac cath lab. There are x-ray technologists, registered cardiovascular invasive specialists, cardiologists, vascular surgeon Dr. Stephen Vincent and four board-certified interventional cardiologists: J. Pala, Barry George, Cindy Baker and Palal Attar.
“We typically have two interventional cardiologists here on any given day,” said Hack. “And we provide 24/7 emergency coverage. Any time of the day that somebody is having a heart attack, they can rest assured that we do have a physician on call and staff on call. Our response time is 30 minutes.
“We like to say, ‘Time is muscle’ so in the shortest amount of time you can get that artery opened back up. The more muscle that’s conserved, the less chance of a patient having a bad outcome from that heart attack.”
The godfather of Knox County’s cardio program, Dr. J. Pala, said KCH’s cardiovascular unit has grown from very humble beginnings and has achieved a quality unmatched in Columbus and Central Ohio.
“There are two things I thought we would never be able to achieve,” he said, “One is to do the intervention angioplasty and stent. That is usually done in much bigger hospitals and [cardiac] centers. I’m so proud that we are able to do that and do such a high level of service. The other that I didn’t think we would do is implanting the defibrillators, a complex procedure. So we are able to offer our community really comprehensive heart services program.
“From the cardiologist’s perspective,” continued Pala, “it is technologically as state-of -the art as you can imagine. I have colleagues from Columbus and Mansfield who want to come and see this. We are truly latest and greatest and the best as far as technology is concerned. From the imaging point of view, with the size of the screen, we are able to clearly visualize even the very small vascular arteries. We are able to do a more complete treatment because our imaging is so sharp and the quality is so good.”
“I’ve been doing catheter-based surgeries for over 30 years [at KCH since 2002] and worked in a lot of different cath labs in that time frame,” said Dr. Barry George. “I can tell you without a doubt this is the nicest cardiac cath lab I have ever worked in. It’s just awesome. The kind of imaging technology that we have here at Knox [Community Hospital] is better than the imaging technology at Ohio State that I use to implant valves. ... The advantages of this cath lab and the table here is that we can readily adapt and accommodate to all sorts of different procedures, not just heart catheterizations and that sort of thing. It’s very exciting. This is a huge feather in the cap for this community to have this state-of-the art technology. And our staff is outstanding. That’s important because cardiovascular medicine is a team sport.”
From a patient’s perspective, the advantage of the new center is that before, Pala said, someone having a heart attack might have been stabilized then transported to Columbus for more advanced care.
George added, “It’s a lot more convenient for patients to have access to cardiovascular care here, particularly the coronary angioplasty and stents.”
After touring the new cath lab, community member Jenny Tharp said it was very nice. “It’s going to be an advantage to have more than one person done at a time,” she said. “The [patient’s] family won’t have to wait for a long time and be upset, like we spouses get upset.”
Former heart patient Howard Wolf also thinks the new cardiac clinic is nice. He and his wife Pat appreciate that he now wouldn’t have to go to Columbus for an angioplasty like he did in 1986.
In addition to CEO Bruce White, speakers at the open house included U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, doctors Pala, George and Vincent and KCH Board president Gordon Yance.
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