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New services will help University heart patients, expand heart treatment

Thursday, Aug 22, 2013 6:38 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 23, 2013 1:24 AM
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University Hospital will spend more than $7.4 million to expand cardiac services to respond to new technology and treat more patients whose heart rhythms have gone awry.

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Dr. David Clark performs an electrophysiology procedure, where the cardiologist tries to get the heart rhythms back in sync, at University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Dr. David Clark performs an electrophysiology procedure, where the cardiologist tries to get the heart rhythms back in sync, at University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute.

University’s boards voted Thursday for two different projects to add two new larger “hybrid” operating rooms for cardiac procedures and to create a dedicated lab for electrophysiology procedures to correct heart rhythms.

The new hybrid ORs will be more than 900 square feet, compared to 700 square feet in the current ORs, said Kyle Howell, vice president of support and facilities services. Showing a slide of a current OR crammed with equipment during a procedure, Howell told the board, “You see what technology has done to the environment. It has filled up the space.”

University’s Heart & Vascular Institute currently has one procedure room for implanting cardiac devices such as pacemakers and for electrophysiology procedures like ablation, which zaps scar tissue on the heart that might be interfering with normal electrical conduction, said Teresa Waters, administrative director of the institute.

The room was fully booked Thursday and “they’ll work until 10 o’clock tonight,” she said. It happens often and University’s cardiologists frequently have to refer their patients out for electrophysiology procedures because of it, said Dr. Mac Bowman of University Cardiology Associates. The number of patients needing those procedures is expected to increase as more patients survive other heart problems that leave scarring on the heart and as the population as a whole gets older, he said.

“As we live longer, with the ravages of blood pressure and diabetes and other things you develop, that scar tissue at the top of your heart... contributes to developing these types of heart problems,” Bowman said.

A second lab just for these procedures should greatly increase the number of patients they can treat, Waters said. When the institute was built, it included a shell lab next to the current one that will now become the new lab, she said.

“We planned for this,” Waters said. There is demand for the service and “we can only expect that to grow,” she said.

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JENNPAT 08/23/13 - 05:14 pm
this is great

i have always said if you have any heart problems you need to go to U.H now it is more true we have some of the best heart doctors here in Augusa i go to Dr Walters and he is great and now the heart doctors can do more than before.i say my hat off to all of them

soldout 08/24/13 - 05:47 am
some heart problems are just food allergies

In my case my heart rate problem was a msg reaction. It is causing some to think they have a heart problem as folks wake up around 1-2 am with a rapid heart rate. You can avoid msg or be treated using naet. If food tastes unusually good you can almost be sure it has msg. Over time your body creates the barrel effect where it has handled all the msg it can and reactions begin to happen. While you are experiencing this and deciding or are headed to the emergency room you can tap on your head with the ends of your fingers which for some will lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. There are many alternative methods that fix a lot of heart problems. Dr. Mercola's daily emails contain a lot of info about alternative approaches being used by doctors and ways to avoid that pretty new operating room if that's your desire. University is the best but not having a problem might be even better.

TrueNorth 08/24/13 - 06:19 pm
And we wonder why healthcare costs continue to rise...

Too bad University and GRU can't get together on cardiovascular services (or much else for that matter) for the community. This new initiative seems to duplicate another expensive lab installed by GRU couple years back which required a certificate of need (CON) from the GA Dept of Community Health. I was not able to find a CON on line submitted by University for this. The GRU one was over $2M as I recall, just for one lab with remotely guided equipment for treatment of bad heart rhythms. Wonder if GRU lab is even at capacity...oh well build it and they will come, or in this case be sent there. And we will all pay for it with Obamacare...and hopefully our hearts won't miss a beat!

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