The original lab, about 300 square feet, had recently become cramped and busy, serving about 1,500 patients each year. The new 1,200-square-foot facility will allow the hospital to comfortably expand to 2,500 procedures annually. With the addition of the second room, the old lab can also be used for cardiac electrophysiology, which delivers electric pulses to spur abnormal heart rhythms back to normalcy. Also, some surgeries, including the insertion of pacemakers, will be moved from the surgical ward to the new lab. Having just one lab meant that if an emergency patient were brought to the hospital, scheduled procedures might have to be stopped and the patient have to wait for the lab to be cleared. “Sometimes having two of anything is really good,” Lee said. “What we’ll try to do is split some of that work into two labs.” This is especially important because the hospital has recently been designated a segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) site by Los Angeles County. This means PIH is one of several facilities within the county where emergency heart patients are taken on a priority basis. According to Lee, work with STEMI began at the hospital in February. Under program standards, emergency heart patients must receive treatment within 90 minutes of an initial screening by paramedics in the field, meaning the staff for the cath lab is on call 24 hours a day. Dr. Sudhaker Nayak, interventional cardiologist and cath lab medical director, said time is critical when trying to save portions of the heart muscle. “If you don’t open the artery immediately, you can have irreversible damage to the heart,” Nayak said. “If there is a situation where one of the labs is occupied, you can’t keep the patient waiting.” One Whittier man can attest to the lifesaving power of racing against the clock. Joe Roman, 57, was about to leave for his job in Fullterton, where he makes equipment for airplanes. He began feeling numbness in his arms, and his wife drove him to the hospital on Sept. 11 of this year. Roman said he was cared for within minutes. “They say I had a heart attack,” Roman said. “My wife told me there were 10 or 15 people working on me.” Roman said doctors working fast in the new cath lab saved his life. “They did a fantastic job,” Roman said. “I couldn’t believe it.” According to Roman, he will not return to work for another month, but is making a recovery. “I have to heal and everything,” Roman said. “But after being here at Presbyterian, it was like nothing ever happened.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! One local hospital is making heartening gains to combat disease and medical emergencies. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier recently opened a new catheterization laboratory, allowing the facility to increase capacity and services for heart patients. The new cath lab is the second on the PIH campus, and cost the hospital about $2.5 million, representative Terri Starkman said. New equipment and space will allow cardiologists and lab team members to serve emergency heart-attack patients faster and to begin performing procedures previously done at other hospitals. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas City“Patients shouldn’t have to leave Whittier anymore,” said Robin Lee, director of cardiology and radiology at the hospital. “We should have the right equipment and the right staff here.” Starkman said community leaders were introduced to the new facility at an open house Sept. 27. “We had invited elected officials from the city of Whittier, chamber members, physicians and our staff to come and see the new lab and a demonstration of our equipment,” Starkman said. Lee said the hospital began doing cardiocatheterization procedures in 1977. This includes injecting dye into the vessels of the heart for diagnostic purposes. The lab also performs angioplasty, the insertion of stints and balloons to open vessels around the heart after a clot or collapse.
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