Heart & Vascular Center Ground Breaking
With legislators, city and county representatives and hospital leadership in attendance, Augusta Health officially broke ground on its $30.6 million Heart & Vascular Center on Sept. 30. When completed by the first quarter of 2013, the four-story, 67,500-square-foot addition will house the hospital's cardiac and vascular services in one location.
"This is our opportunity to offer convenient access to services and pleasant surroundings, while expanding our
interventional services and meeting the growing needs of the community," says Karen Clark, vice president of
professional services at Augusta Health.
The imaging department, which will be the connecting point between the existing hospital and the new center, will also be renovated.
Inside the center
"It's going to be a beautiful building," sums up Kathleen Heatwole, Augusta Health's vice president for planning and development.
After a very competitive selection process, architects Kahler Slater and construction management firm Whiting-Turner were selected. Although the project is being funded by hospital reserves, there is opportunity for community support for this project, Heatwole says. Both firms have extensive heart center design experience. Recognizing the importance of supporting its community, Augusta Health selected many well-qualified local subcontractors to work on the project.
Inside the center, patients can expect to find a wide array of nationally accredited services, Clark says. That includes a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab with all new imaging equipment (the hospital is requesting state approval for a second cath lab), vascular ultrasound rooms, stress testing, echocardiograms and nuclear medicine featuring a new nuclear camera. There will also be a large cardiac rehabilitation unit—increased from its current size of 800 square feet to 5,000 square feet—featuring the latest in exercise equipment; support services such as nutritional counseling and diabetes education; and offices for specialists
such as cardiologists and pulmonologists.
"It's very convenient. Patients will be able to visit their cardiologist and undergo cardiac procedures in the same place," Heatwole says. The hospital will also explore adding new services while expanding existing ones, she says, as well as hiring additional physicians, such as cardiologists and interventional cardiologists.
"We're constantly hiring," Heatwole says. "We're in growth mode, which is very fortunate for our patients." Other features patients will find are a dedicated Heart & Vascular Center entrance and parking. While the center will be attached to the hospital, "It definitely will have its own identity," she says.
Raising the bar
Augusta Health has worked hard to improve the heart health of its community. Just over the past few years, the hospital has more than halved the time it takes for heart attack patients to be treated—called "door-to-balloon" time—from 135 minutes when patients were transferred to other facilities to now just 43 minutes, well below the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology recommended guideline of 90 minutes. It's also received recognition from The Joint Commission for its performance in caring for heart
attack and heart failure patients.
"We already have a strong heart program," Clark says. "But this new center provides patients with more organized services."