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Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Advanced Multifunctional Laboratory

Nicole Hoefler, director for cardiac cath services at Mather Hospital in the new cardiac catheterization lab. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s finally here. 

Mather Hospital announced this week its new cardiac catheterization lab is completed and is ready to serve patients — as soon as it receives its final Department of Health inspection and approval in the upcoming weeks.

According to Nursing Director for Cardiac Cath Services Nicole Hoefler, Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson is joining the few places on Long Island in hosting a cardiac catheterization lab to provide less invasive heart-related services to patients who need it. 

“We’re here to basically help prevent serious heart attacks,” Hoefler said. “And prevent heart attacks that might be evolving.”

The labs specialize in using X-ray guided catheters to help open blockages in coronary arteries or repair the heart in minimally invasive procedures. These range from stenting to angioplasty and bypass surgery — that are less traumatic to the body and speed recovery. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Sometimes, if a patient had a positive stress test, they’ll come in here so we can see what’s causing that pain they might have been having,” she noted. “Sometimes they need to have it for surgery clearance, like if they saw something on their EKG.”

The two new state-of-the-art rooms were approved by Northwell Health last year, alongside three other Northwell facilities. Construction began on the new spaces in August 2020, completing and turning over to the clinical staff on April 19. 

By adding the two labs into Mather, Hoefler said they can help save a life.

“Every minute that passes when you’re having a heart attack slows your heart muscle,” she said. “So not having to transfer the patient out, and just bring them in from upstairs will be life changing.”

Both rooms will be able to accommodate approximately 20 patients per day with the 12 hours the labs are open. 

The addition of the more than 3,000 square foot space is just another space that Mather can now provide patients better.

“I think the community just loves Mather,” Hoefler said. “Having this service
is just another reason to come here.”

The Philips Azurion 7 provides imaging capabilities at ultra-low radiation dose levels. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Stony Brook University Hospital has taken a step in offering cardiac diagnosis and treatment that is even more advanced than in the past.

SBUH’s Dr. Robert Pyo, Dr. Henry Tannous, Dr. Eric Rashba and Dr. Hal Skopicki stand in the new multifunctional lab. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Recently, the hospital announced the opening of its Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Advanced Multifunctional Laboratory in the Stony Brook University Heart Institute at SBUH. The lab consolidates comprehensive cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology services into one location.

The multifunctional laboratory measures 845 square feet to allow room for various medical teams to perform emergency procedures at the same time if needed. The room includes anesthesia equipment, state-of-the-art angiographic suite equipment and the latest electrophysiology technology. In the lab, physicians are able to continue treating a patient even if the scope of a procedure changes from minimally invasive to more invasive.

When it came time to design the multifunctional laboratory, administrative and medical professionals were able to provide input including Cath Lab Director, Dr. Robert Pyo and EP Lab Director Dr. Eric Rashba.

Pyo said it was important to get input not only from doctors but nurses and technicians, who play a crucial part in documenting procedures, information that will be used during a patient’s treatment.

Rashba said time was spent with the construction group to ensure everything was laid out correctly and that it would work for both specialties in the multifunctional lab. He added that work began April 12 to renovate five existing labs, three Cath and two EP, adjacent to the new Cath/EP lab on the main level of the Heart Institute. One lab at a time will be worked on, and while the additional renovations will take several months, Rashba said the number of patients that Stony Brook doctors can treat will increase, and patients will be able to get appointments quicker than in the past.

“What we’ve seen over time in electrophysiology is that you see more and more patients with arrhythmias that need treatment,” he said. “There’s been an incredible growth in ablation procedures, in particular atrial fibrillation. This will allow us to meet the community need with less waiting times for procedures. So, we’re looking forward to that.”

Since the lab opened March 30, both doctors said the imaging has been superior to what they had been using before. The lab includes an image-guided diagnostic and therapeutic imaging system called the Philips Azurion 7.

“We’re replacing systems that have been installed for over 10 years,” Rashba said. “First of all, we can see a lot better what the definition of the structures are we need to see, plus the radiation definition is a lot lower. So, we’re getting better imaging with less dose to the patient.”

Rashba added that some EP procedures can even be done without radiation.

Pyo said the new multifunctional lab also saves doctors precious time when treating heart patients with both catheterization and electrophysiology in the same room.

“The importance of timing, reducing the time to treatment, whether it’s minutes or seconds, is relative,” Pyo said. “I think that in any case, even in patients who come in electively, getting early diagnosis is crucial.”

Being able to respond quicker is especially crucial with treatment of heart attacks.

“Patients who are presenting with a heart attack, minutes, even seconds, count toward early diagnosis and treatment,” Pyo said, adding if patients don’t get treatment early enough they could suffer irreversible damage.