Nestled behind the emergency room at Morris Hospital, the catheterization laboratory buzzes with determined physicians, nurses and radiology technicians whisking back and forth, clad in blue gowns.
Behind the door, the unit reveals an array of equipment, computers, screens, lights and cabinets stocked with specialized medical supplies. But it’s always the physicians and staff — moving smooth, certain and precise — who bring it all to life.
This unique crew powers Morris Hospital’s cath lab, which is a specially designed unit for advanced cardiovascular diagnostic testing and interventions including coronary and peripheral angiography, angioplasty, stenting, pacemaker and defibrillator implantations, along with radiology special procedures.
Treatment for heart attacks
While most of these tests and procedures are scheduled in advance, the cath lab also is the place patients are taken if they are experiencing a heart attack in which the coronary artery is blocked and requires immediate response. Using images obtained with the lab’s Siemens Artis Zee cardiovascular angiographic system, specially trained cardiologists at Morris Hospital are able to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the heart during a procedure called coronary angioplasty. Stents — tiny, wire mesh tubes — are used with angioplasty to hold the artery open.
“When a patient is having a heart attack, timing is very important,” said Syed Ahmed, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists. “Delayed treatment can result in major damage to the heart muscle and the patient can lose their life.
“Because we have the capabilities of the cath lab here at Morris Hospital, within the matter of an hour, patients experiencing a heart attack can be back in stable condition. That is why the cath lab at Morris Hospital is so important. It’s where we respond to emergent cases and save lives.”
Because heart attacks can happen at any time, an interventional cardiologist and team from the cath lab staff is on call at Morris Hospital at all times and ready to intervene within 30 minutes. Door-to-balloon is defined as the time it takes from the moment a patient arrives in the emergency room to the time the patient is in the cath lab and the blockage is opened. Whereas the national benchmark for door-to-balloon time is 90 minutes, the average door-to-balloon time at Morris Hospital is 62 minutes, with a hospital-best time of 23 minutes.
Beyond heart attacks
In addition to emergency cases, the cath lab also provides the equipment and setting for patients who need other cardiac, peripheral or interventional radiology procedures, including pacemakers and defibrillators.
“Because of the cath lab capabilities at Morris Hospital, we are able to better serve the community,” said Muhammad Marwali, M.D., an electrophysiologist with Morris Hospital Cardiovascular Specialists. “We can do more cardiac procedures right here in Morris. This makes it easier for patients so they don’t have to travel far from home.”
For a free heart attack warning signs magnet, go to morrishospital.org/magnet.