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Harrison Medical Center taking the stress out of heart treatment

Lynsi Burton/staff photo The electrophysiology lab, for treating heart rhythm problems, is one of three new laboratories at Harrison Medical Center’s new heart and vascular center. - Lynsi Burton/staff photo
Lynsi Burton/staff photo The electrophysiology lab, for treating heart rhythm problems, is one of three new laboratories at Harrison Medical Center’s new heart and vascular center.
— image credit: Lynsi Burton/staff photo

With aging equipment and not enough space to handle patient volume, doctors and nurses specializing in heart and vascular medicine at Harrison Medical Center found themselves stuck.

“It’s not uncommon for us to run out of beds,” said Sue Shock, operations manager of the heart and vascular center.

With old equipment reaching the end of its service life, patients sometimes faced rescheduling and delays of treatment.

That’s why the opening of the hospital’s new heart and vascular center cannot come soon enough for doctors, nurses and staff, Shock said.

Opening to patients Monday, the new center will have twice the number of pre- and post-operation beds as the current one, with new equipment that will allow patients to undergo all treatments and examinations in one place, instead of being moved from one room to another.

“This is going to be like a brand new car,” said David Tinker, chief of cardiology, likening the 10,500-square-foot center to a Maserati sports car.

Last year, Harrison’s heart and vascular center treated nearly 2,800 patients, said a Harrison spokeswoman. That number is projected to increase by a few hundred cases each year through 2015, making an expanded center all the more necessary. Not only are the number of heart patients increasing due to an aging population, Tinker said, but Harrison is also growing in its market share, attracting more patients who might have otherwise gone to Seattle.

The new $14.6 million center is nearly complete, after about nine months of construction. It is built in the former behavioral health unit on the main level, upstairs from the current heart and vascular center.

The space includes three different labs for examinations and operations: a Cardiac catheterization lab, used for patients requiring only cardiac care; a cardiac and peripheral lab, which allows for treatment of the heart and other areas of the body without needing to switch rooms; and the electrophysiology lab, where patients will be treated for heart rhythm problems. All rooms are large enough to fit the equipment required for a given treatment, whereas the previous space was more cramped and sometimes forced equipment to be shuffled in and out.

“The flow is going to be much more smooth,” cardiovascular technician Mike Caldwell said. “The design flow is more geared toward ease of use and patient comfort.”

Across the hall, there is a circular 12-bed room for pre- and post-operation patients. Each bed comes with a flatscreen television and soundproof panels provide privacy for patients. A workstation in the middle of the room gives nurses a 360-degree view of their charges.

Together, the hospital hopes the updates will make the staff’s jobs easier and the patients’ stay more comfortable.

“This will be a much nicer patient experience,” Tinker said. “Frankly, they deserve that.”

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