Only Community Hospital in Westchester to Provide Minimally Invasive Procedure to Restore Blood Flow to the Heart
White Plains, NY (March 26, 2010) – On Valentine’s Day morning, Rye City Councilman Peter Jovanovich began experiencing chest pains while working out at the Rye YMCA. Police officers responded and administered oxygen before EMS arrived and rushed him to White Plains Hospital Center’s new Emergency Department, where he was immediately transferred to the Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. There, cardiac specialists discovered a blockage in one of his coronary arteries. Jovanovich became the Hospital’s first patient to undergo emergency angioplasty to restore blood flow to his heart.
Three days later, Jovanovich was released from the Hospital and is doing well. His wife, Robin, said: “Peter was extraordinarily lucky and got quick attention by EMS and by the skilled cardiac specialists at White Plains Hospital Center. We are fortunate to have had access to angioplasty in close proximity to our community where we live.“ She added: “This Valentine’s Day will remain very special to us because it also marked our 34th anniversary.”
On February 9, White Plains Hospital Center’s cardiac cath lab was approved by the New York State Department of Health to provide emergency and elective angioplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that opens occluded (blocked) arteries. In so doing, White Plains Hospital Center became the only community hospital in Westchester to provide this advanced level of cardiac care. Until then, heart attack patients in the communities served by White Plains Hospital Center were transferred further north or down to New York City for angioplasty.
During the first six weeks of operation, there were nearly 20 angioplasties, half of them performed on an emergency basis for heart attack patients. In addition to Mr. Jovanovich, patients included two who, in separate incidents, experienced chest pain for the first time while shoveling snow during one of the recent snow storms. The remaining cases were performed on patients with unstable cardiac symptoms. Emergency angioplasty is performed when the arteries are 70% or more occluded.
Mark A. Apfelbaum, M.D., the lab’s Medical Director and Director of NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System Cath Labs at the Center of Interventional Vascular Therapy, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center (NYP/Columbia), said that ”the lab has been treating heart attack patients every week since the angioplasty program began six weeks ago. This underscores the importance of a community hospital having this capability to save lives.” Dr. Apfelbaum expects the cardiac cath lab to have volume of close to 75 cases a month, including diagnostic angiograms and angioplasties. The Cardiac Catheterization Lab also performs diagnostic electrophysiology procedures for abnormal heart rhythms, and implants devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.
Jon B. Schandler, WPHC President and CEO, said: “It comes as no surprise that the cardiac cath lab is experiencing strong demand. That’s why we advocated for state approval for so many years and is what we planned for when we invested $7.2 million to build it.” He added: “Our Hospital serves one of the largest populations in Westchester. We are very pleased that this investment was immediately paid back in just a few days when the first life was saved.”
White Plains Hospital Center serves the communities of White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye Brook, Port Chester, Hartsdale, and parts of Elmsford, Eastchester and Yonkers. The combined population comprises 250,000 residents which increases to about 400,000 on weekdays with the influx of workers, shoppers and visitors.
In becoming licensed to provide elective and emergency angioplasty, the Hospital also became a designated STEMI Center by the Westchester County EMS Council. Under the Westchester County STEMI protocol, EMS is advised to bring patients with EKG changes and symptoms consistent with an ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) to the nearest hospital with appropriate interventional cardiac services. Similar protocols are in place in New York City and other areas of the country.
The cardiac Catheterization Lab is located on the floor immediately above the Hospital’s new and expanded Emergency Department which celebrated its grand opening in late January. The cath lab’s close proximity to the Emergency Department means that heart attack patients are transferred quickly for rapid treatment by the team of interventional cardiology specialists, nurses and support staff.
Angioplasty is an interventional procedure in which a thin, balloon-tipped catheter is threaded into a blocked heart artery, and the balloon is expanded to compress plaque against the artery wall to restore blood flow. In many cases, a physician will place a stent inside the artery to help it remain open. A stent is a tiny mesh-like “scaffolding” device that remains permanently inside the artery. Some stents are “drug-eluting”, and are coated with medication that further prevents restenosis (reblocking or narrowing) of the artery.