Our New Cardiac Center

Friday, April 2, 2010

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in this country. In 2006 alone, more than 630,000 people died from the disease. And Augusta Health is doing its part to help meet the increasing need for quality cardiac care in the region and combat this sobering statistic. The hospital is making plans for an approximate $40 million cardiology facility to be completed in 2011 or 2012. While it's still pending approval from the Commissioner of Health (this will likely happen in mid-June) there's plenty of excitement about what it means for the community.

Artistic rendering of the planned Heart and Vacsular Cener

"Our primary goal with this facility is to be able to provide access to interventional cardiology services 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Kathleen Heatwole, Vice President of Planning and Development for Augusta Health. That means if a patient shows up at the hospital with heart attack symptoms at 8 p.m. on a Saturday, a physician would be ready to immediately provide a service such as interventional cardiac catheterization, which can open up narrowed arteries in the heart.

Foundation of quality care

The new cardiology unit is planned to have four floors with about 100,000 square feet of new and renovated space. It will have the space to add 24 beds to the hospital, enabling all medical and surgical patient rooms to be privateā€”a boon not only for patient privacy but also for infection control, Heatwole says. (Currently, about 75 percent of the hospital's rooms are private.) Other patient perks to come include:

  • All cardiology services will be condensed under one roof (cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes education, nutritional counseling, support groups, etc.). This building will also serve as the home to radiology and imaging services. (Currently, patients must cross the ambulance bay to reach the radiology department.)
  • Cardiac rehabilitation space will more than double in size, allowing more patients to make speedier recoveries.
  • A dedicated parking area and entrance will add to patient convenience. (Currently, patients must cross the ambulance bay to reach the cardiology department.)
  • Additional medical office space will improve patient flow.

"We've seen our patient volume grow, but we've been in the same space since 1994," Heatwole says of cardiology services. "It's overcrowded, and we can't add more rooms to the hospital or more treadmills to the rehab room. "This provides us with a better opportunity to take care of the community, and this is a very cost-effective way to do it."