Rockdale Medical Center to expand cardiovascular services

CONYERS — Rockdale Medical Center will soon broaden its range of cardiovascular services with the addition of a multi-million dollar cath lab and development of a Percutaneous Coronary Interventions program.

According to the hospital, the PCI program will be added in partnership with Piedmont Healthcare to provide more comprehensive cardiovascular services to meet the growing and complex cardiovascular needs of patients in Rockdale and surrounding areas.

When a heart attack occurs, blood supply to the heart is blocked causing damage to the heart muscle. PCI, formerly known as cardiac angioplasty, is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that opens the heart’s arteries using a catheter with a small balloon attached to the tip. The procedure is an alternative to coronary bypass surgery, which involves more downtime and a longer recovery period.

By adding the PCI service, RMC expects to be able to provide care for more patients who, in the past, had to travel out of the area. According to RMC, in 2013 more than 650 patients in RMC’s primary and secondary service areas received PCI services at other facilities. An additional 323 patients were transferred or taken by ambulance to facilities for cardiac care rather than being taken to RMC’s emergency department.

“We are proud to be expanding a service line that is critically important to our community,” said Deborah Armstrong, chief executive officer of RMC. “Many patients who previously would have had to travel farther will now be able to receive high quality PCI care at Rockdale Medical Center. And, for those cases with more complex needs, such as open heart surgery, we are partnering with Piedmont to provide a seamless transition of care for those services.”

Development of the PCI program will require the addition of a second cardiac catheterization lab at a capital cost of more than $2.5 million. The hospital expects the addition of the lab to allow for more procedures to be performed during “routine” hours, decrease wait times and reduce inpatient length of stay. Construction of the new cath lab is expected to begin in December and be completed by April 2015.

The new technology will help RMC coordinate care for chest pain patients for more prompt diagnosis and streamlined treatment. The hospital is also working with National EMS to add AIRSTRIP technology to its ambulances, which will make it possible to begin treatment while a patient is being transported to the hospital. AIRSTRIP will allow the transmission of EKGs directly to cardiologists at the hospital.

Other diagnostic services offered by RMC include cardiac rehab; cardiac stress testing; EEG; EKG; endovascular diagnostic and intervention; pacemaker placement; stress echocardiography; vascular surgery; and venous, carotid and lower arterial studies, as well as heart disease prevention and education programs.

RMC is a 138-bed acute-care hospital that is part of LifePoint Hospitals. LifePoint operates more than 60 hospital campuses in 20 states.