CVMC invites public to new cardiac lab
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA — Coosa Valley Medical Center is hosting an open house and dedication for its newest addition this Friday.

The public is invited to tour the cardiac catheterization lab Oct. 12 beginning at 10 a.m. on the ground floor. Guests will be able to view the facility and speak with cardiologists and staff members.

“This is hopefully an opportunity for people to see the lab in a less threatening way,” said Andy Gill, director of imaging and cardiac services. “When a patient comes in for a procedure, they’re concentrating on their health, and there’s a fear there, so to come in healthy and see it and ask questions, it eliminates a lot of that fear and educates the community about how far we’ve come - not just our hospital, but how far interventional cardiology and medicine has come as well.”

The new catheterization lab allows for full-time cardiac care and the immediate diagnosis and treatment of a number of heart issues. Heart catheterization is used to evaluate the heart and blood vessels to determine if surgery or other treatment is needed. The procedure can diagnose coronary artery disease, heart and valve defects, cardiomyopathy (heart attack) and congenital abnormalities.

CEO Glenn Sisk said the lab is another step in the hospital’s effort to provide area residents with high-level care that is equal to larger tertiary medical centers.

“It has been, and will continue to be, our hope to bring beneficial services to this region,” Sisk said. “The addition of a cardiac catheterization laboratory certainly raises the clinical bar for CVMC. However, it is with great confidence that we have proceeded given the outstanding quality of cardiologists now available in Sylacauga.”

The lab is staffed by cardiologists from CardioVascular Associates and HeartSouth in Birmingham, as well as CVMC employees. The hospital has provided cardiac services through CardioVascular Associates for about 25 years and HeartSouth for about eight years. Gill said CVMC’s relationship with experienced cardiologists was vital in its decision to add the lab.

“These doctors have an established practice in town,” he said. “We didn’t have to go out and recruit. Their patients were already seeing them, and those same patients were probably going to (University Hospital at Birmingham) or (Shelby Baptist Medical Center) in the past, so that’s why we felt like we could do this successfully.”

The hospital identified cardiac services as a need in the community last fall, Gill said, and coordinated to train staff members and bring in new technology for the lab by this year.

“We knew that over 300 patients a year were being sent to Birmingham or Shelby for some type of cardiac procedure,” Gill said. “Our local referring physicians felt it was needed. The travel to and from Birmingham for a procedure that can be done here, and you can go home the same day, is a huge benefit to the community. Patients who have gone to Birmingham before will say they got just as good care here as they did there, and they’re glad they don’t have to make the drive.”

The lab adds to the hospital’s existing outpatient cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services. The rehab program offers exercise, nutritional and emotional assistance, in addition to continued monitoring and communication with physicians.

“It’s not just rehab for their health, but it also gives them a support group of friends they exercise with and nurses who know them,” Gill said. “It completes the continuum of cardiac care we are now able to offer.”

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