Strong Memorial Debuts New Cardiac Catheterization and EP Labs

November 12, 2002

Strong Memorial Hospital dedicated its new cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs on Nov. 12, celebrating the newest facility with the most leading-edge technology in Western New York.

Housed in nearly triple the square footage of its former laboratories, the $7.6 million facility means an increase to five labs. Three are dedicated to cardiac catheterization, the remaining two for electrophysiology services. Space for a sixth lab is available to accommodate expected increased patient volumes during the next few years.

The new facility further strengthens the way we care for cardiac patients, says Richard M. Pomerantz, M.D., chief of Clinical Cardiology. "It enhances patient care by providing more room and better privacy for patients and their families, with 18 separate, private patient rooms and a dedicated waiting room. The newest technology allows the cath and EP team to meet the growing need for diagnostic and interventional procedures."

The need for additional labs was evident considering the number of patients the department cares for annually. The catheterization caseload has increased by 10 percent in the last year, Pomerantz says, while electrophysiology cases increased 20 percent.

In addition to serving an ever-increasing volume of adult patients, including those being evaluated for heart transplantation, the new labs enable Strong to treat even more pediatric patients and have been designed with the special needs of children in mind. Under the direction of Daniel Miga, M.D., director of Pediatric Interventional Cardiology, it is the only facility in the Finger Lakes Region equipped to treat children with congenital heart disease. It also is the only site in Western New York equipped with the most current interventional devices for children.

Another distinguishing aspect of the new labs is the relationship with three cath lab sites in the Southern Tier - Ithaca, Olean and Hornell. The team at Strong Memorial and the cath lab teams in the region can communicate on a daily basis using new technology that transmits images of a patient to Rochester via the Internet, allowing both the on-site and Strong medical teams to consult on a particular case. If patients need additional care unavailable in the region, they are transported to Strong Memorial.

"We do this in real time, without waiting for patient X-rays or cath images to be delivered to Strong," says Frederick S. Ling, M.D., director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. "It ensures quick decisions are made, resulting in the best possible treatment for patients."

Strong's cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology team is as unique in its research as its clinical patient care. Strong Memorial was one of 21 medical centers in the United States to test a new device called the Beta-Cath System, a therapy that dramatically improves the long-term effectiveness of stenting by using small doses of radiation to prevent recurrent restenosis. It also was the first site in Upstate New York to use the device routinely.

Strong's electrophysiology labs, led by Director James P. Daubert, M.D., offer arrhythmia, pacemaker and implantable defibrillator services and the newest technologies, including three-dimensional heart mapping and implantable rhythm recorders. Because of the large patient volumes and the team's record of expertise, Strong continues to be one of the first centers sought out by industry when a new device is ready for clinical use.

Daubert and Arthur Moss, M.D., a distinguished faculty member and one of the world's foremost experts on implantable defibrillators, published a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996, which was the first to formally prove the life-saving attributes of these devices in patients with abnormal heart rhythms who had suffered a heart attack.

Along with cardiac procedures, there has been further enhancement of the already superb peripheral vascular program. Cardiologists, radiologists and vascular surgeons work together caring for patients and undertaking clinical studies, such as a trial of carotid artery stenting, which may reduce the need for surgery for neck artery blockage.

"Strong's catheterization and electrophysiology labs tout a dedicated focus on research that not only helps the medical community move toward better treatment options for patients in a general sense, it allows local individuals to benefit from leading-edge investigations being done in Rochester," Pomerantz says.

The $7.6 million project consisted of $3.9 million for construction, including architecture, built-in furniture and moving costs; $2.9 million for three new catheterization machines, while two existing pieces of equipment from the former lab space were utilized; and $800,000 for monitors and other peripheral equipment. # # #

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Karin Christensen
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