PBMC unveils new cardiac catheterization lab

Peconic Bay Medical Center will unveil its new cardiac cath lab Monday, Oct. 16 — a facility that will bring “life-saving service” to the East End when it officially opens.

The interim facility will eventually be part of the new Kanas Regional Heart Center that’s under construction as part of PBMC’s $60 million Critical Care Tower expansion.

“Starting Monday, 24/7, this life-saving service will be forever available here,” said Andrew Mitchell, president and CEO of PBMC. “Now for the first time, patients are not going to have any delays in treatment and they will be cared for right here.”

Previously, North Fork residents who suffered a heart attack would have to be transferred to hospitals at least an hour away, such as Stony Brook University Medical Center. Doctors could only stabilize a patient at PBMC and arrange a transfer to a facility with a cath lab, hospital officials said.

“That takes a lot of time, easily hours, and time is muscle,” Mr. Mitchell said. “Now, the patient comes in and within minutes they’re in the cath lab having that blockage opened up.”

Doctors conducted a press conference and cath lab demonstration Oct. 9  to show the type of technology available. They performed a simulated procedure on a mannequin to show what a real-life cardiac scenario would look like.

Dr. Stanley Katz, chair of cardiology and chief of interventional cardiology, runs the cardiac center and helped design the cath labs.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to start from scratch and be able to practice without patients,” Dr. Katz said during the simulation, conducted by Northwell Health’s Center for Learning & Innovation along with PBMC staff.

Susan Somerville, vice president of clinical transformations, also helped develop the program.

“An additional half-hour, 45 minutes, hour, hour and a half, that a patient doesn’t have blood flow reestablished to the heart muscle, the muscle dies,” said Ms. Somerville, a former cath lab nurse who lives in Southold. “That’s one of the reasons it’s so important we’re bringing this program to the community.”

Dr. Steven Lederman and Dr. Louis Heller are cardiologists working in the program along with a support staff of 20 nurses, physician assistants and lab techs, dubbed the “Blue Angels” by Mr. Mitchell.

Steven Schreiber, 60, of Flanders spoke at Monday’s press event and said he was glad to see the facility come to PBMC because he suffers from heart problems.

“My last heart attack was in the summer of 2014,” Mr. Schreiber said. “I didn’t know what to do, so I did call an ambulance. They couldn’t take me here to Peconic because they didn’t have a facility to help save my life at the time. I almost died in the ambulance.”

Mr. Schreiber had to be taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“I’m feeling so much more comfortable now that there’s something so much closer to home with a very qualified staff,” he said.

Dr. Katz said he hopes the facility will also help attract prominent doctors to the North Fork.

“Over the last 18 years I had the pleasure of doing over 10,000 procedures on patients who live in the Riverhead area and areas east of here,” Dr. Lederman said. “The thing over the years that struck me was all these patients and all these procedures had to be taken out of their community.”

In February, PBMC was given provisional status as a Level III Trauma Center by the New York State Department of Health. In March, PBMC received final approval of that designation from New York State’s health commissioner. It is the only trauma and stroke center on the North Fork.

Once it is completed, in 18 to 24 months, the Kanas Regional Heart Center will feature two cath labs and an electrophysiology room. At that time, the interim cath lab to be unveiled next week could remain as a third lab or be transformed into something like an operating room, depending on the need, hospital officials said.

A groundbreaking for the heart center and critical care tower was held in July.

Community members can tour the facility Thursday. There are two sessions offered, between 1 and 2 p.m. and 7 and  8 p.m. The sessions will feature a question and answer segment followed by tours of the lab. Ms. Somerville will present at the first session and Dr. Katz will present at the second. To RSVP for the tour, email Olivia Basaly [email protected].

Photo caption: Dr. Stanley Katz, PBMC’s chair of cardiology, performs a simulation Monday at the unveiling of the hospital’s new cardiac cath lab.(Credit: Rachel Siford)

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