By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Thousands of patients are free of chronic heart conditions and able to live life to the fullest, thanks to the preventative care and advanced technology of cath labs at Mercy Medical Center.
“This could be a cath lab anywhere, it’s so state-of-the-art,” visiting speaker and cardiac expert Joe Piscatella said. “It’s such a boom for this community. I’m impressed.”
Staff at the cath labs has helped over 22,000 patients during the last 24 years.
The 10 employees who work at the labs see about 100 patients a month at the facility that is open 24 hours daily, seven days a week.
Through this inventive technology, they have been able to catch problems long before they get serious, but it wouldn’t be possible without patients paying attention to signs and symptoms.
“Don’t wait, don’t brush it off,” Vice President of Patient Services Amy Berentes said. “We will take false alarms.”
“We would rather have someone come in with indigestion, than ignore symptoms and have a heart attack,” Cindy Mootz, RTR, CVIT, added.
In 2011, the two cath labs began renovations to install advanced imaging and documentation. The Artis zee angiography system, developed by Siemens Medical Solutions, provides physicians with highly detailed images of a patient’s blood vessels during diagnostic and treatment procedures.
With advanced technology, three-dimensional images with high resolution allow physicians to see the finest blood vessels and interventional devices, such as guidewires and catheters, in precise detail from almost any angle.
While the labs have seen tremendous changes through the years, the equipment has always remained on the cutting edge of medical technology. In 1988, when the labs first opened, x-ray technicians used 35-millimeter film. This made it much more time consuming and tedious than the digital technology used today.
“It sure has been nice to grow with the facility,” Mootz said.
In addition to the impressive technology of the labs, Mercy boasts highly experienced staff that has been there from day one. Mootz, Deb Bielema, R.N. and Doctor Saadi Albaghdadi have been with the Cath Lab since its inception at Mercy. With strong connections to the area, the staff has been able to treat very familiar patients.
“We are treating our family and friends,” Mootz said. “We really know the people who we are helping. We are giving them a second chance at life.”
With decades of experience and expertise and cutting edge advancements Mercy Cath Labs have an advantage over similar facilities.
“There is nothing somebody else has that we don’t have,” Dr. Saadi Albaghdadi said. “It really helps that we have staff that are well-versed with the equipment and dedicated.”
Most importantly the newly updated labs allow the staff to offer preventative care that can change lives.
“We don’t see as many heart failure patients,” Berentes said. “We are getting to people before they get a chronic heart condition.”