ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell city officials joined dozens of healthcare professionals March 4 to celebrate the official opening of WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s new cardiac catheterization lab.
The roughly $5 million facility, located on the hospital’s third floor, allows doctors to perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.
“Our new cath lab brings many firsts to our community,” said Jon-Paul Croom, president of WellStar North Fulton Hospital. “It is the first cath lab for robotic procedures in the metro Atlanta area, the first electrophysiology procedures at WellStar North Fulton Hospital and the first catheter procedures completed in under 10 minutes at North Fulton.”
The wing includes two cath labs, private waiting rooms for families and some of the latest technology in the field. It also includes a renovated rehabilitation facility to assist patients in their recovery.
The lab features robotic-assisted percutaneous coronary interventions, whereby a balloon is inflated in the coronary artery to remove plaque. It is the first hospital in Metro Atlanta to employ the technology and one of only 50 sites worldwide.
Croom said the new cath lab reflects the hospital’s commitment to keeping up with the latest technology.
“Healthcare is changing rapidly. WellStar is leading the way,” he said. “Across our system, we had notable accomplishments from expansions, national recognition, new programs and technologies.”
The cath lab also allows physicians to perform electrophysiology procedures to treat abnormal heartbeats, as well as a procedure known as cardiac swing, which reduces exposure to radiation from X-ray equipment by limiting the number of images taken during a diagnostic catheterization.
Aside from the technology, one of the key elements of the facility is its attention to process, providing patients and their families the best care available, said Jeffrey Penton, director of cardiovascular services.
“I wanted to develop a whole setup where the patient has complete care in one setting,” Penton said. “They come in here, they’re cared for by cardiac specialty nurses. They go to the cath lab and come back to recover and are cared for by the same nurses that worked with them at the beginning.”
The wing includes complete facilities for pre- and post-procedure, so that the same staff is working with patients throughout.
The patient begins the journey in a private waiting room with family where a workup is performed. There, images of the heart are displayed to examine the area for blockages, and if any are found, how they should be addressed.
From there, the patient goes a short distance down the hall to the actual cath lab where the procedure is performed. Even then, the family in the waiting room can ask the nurse for any updates on the procedure.
Following the procedure, the patient is returned to the room and the physician speaks with the whole family, using images displayed on the monitor in the room.
Penton said he had been working on the design for about two years before final plans were adopted. Throughout the whole process, he said, it was important to keep patients attached to the same nurses and staff who know their special history.
“So, the people who take care of you beforehand, they know exactly what you’re going through in that cath lab, and they’re able to take care of you afterwards with greater care than going to a floor where nurses may see one or two of them in a month,” Penton said. “We see them every day, all day, so you get great care from those nurses because that’s their specialty.”