MOREHEAD CITY — Carteret General Hospital recently received approval from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services for a planned facility for treatment of heart patients.
CGH received its state Certificate of Need for a new fixed, shared cardiac catheterization laboratory. Initially, services will include scheduled diagnostic catheterizations and other non-cardiac interventional radiology.
The proposed lab is part of hospital administrators’ overall strategic plan and the addition is occurring at the same time as the separate and more comprehensive expansion plan at the more than 45-year-old hospital.
The expansion will add more than 100,000 square feet of treatment space.
Plans for the catheterization laboratory include renovating the existing imaging department near the emergency room and accessible through the outpatient registration area on 35th Street. In addition, more than 5,000 square feet of new space will be added to the department.
“Adding a diagnostic cardiac catheterization lab to our cardiac care program at Carteret General Hospital eliminates unnecessary delays, improves access to care, decreases transfers and allows patients to receive the highest quality care available right here in Morehead City,” said CGH President and CEO Dick Brvenik. “Providing timely care is always a goal of health care professionals, and when it comes to cardiac care, every minute can be life-changing.”
Hospital officials said cardiac catheterization is the most accurate test for examining coronary arteries and identifying the location, number and severity of blockages that are affecting the muscle. The procedure includes the placement of a thin, hollow tube or catheter, into the large blood vessel into the heart, allowing physicians to inject a contrast dye that is visible in X-rays. Doctors can then measure the pressure and blood flow in the heart and follow the dye as it flows through the heart’s arteries, alerting them to blockages.
“On a daily basis, at least one patient shares concerns regarding chest pains,” said Dr. Joseph Nutz, Carteret General Hospital Vice President of Medical Affairs. “Normally these patients have had limited diagnostic options. They can choose to have a stress test here or to go out of town for a catheterization. With these new services, we will be able to offer better tools to access whether the patient even has a blockage and possibly help them avoid leaving Carteret County at all.”
Historically, cardiac patients have needed to visit health care facilities in New Bern, Greenville or beyond to receive catheterization interventional radiology procedures and services.
CGH officials said heart disease and survival rates for heart patients in Carteret County have been a cause for concern. According to the N.C. Center for Health Statistics, the heart disease death rate in the county was 49 percent higher than the state rate from 2007 to 2011. Carteret County had 272.2 deaths per 100,000 compared to 183.6 statewide. Yet according to the 2012 State of the County Health Report – Carteret County, heart disease (32 percent) and vascular disease (8 percent) combined to cause more deaths than cancer (35 percent) between 2006 and 2010.
The N.C. Office of Budget and Management, which forecasts population growth and aging, has found that the population in Carteret County is older than the state average and growing faster than average.
CGH officials said that makes it more vital than ever that the only hospital in Carteret County is positioned to offer the added services to its aging demographic.
The addition of the catheterization lab adds to CGH’s cardiac care program, which already includes a critical care unit, board-certified cardiologists trained in diagnostic cardiac catheterization, cardiac rehabilitation, thrombolytic therapy, pacemaker implantation, angiography, echocardiograms and nuclear medicine.
“A diagnostic cardiac catheterization lab is the next step in providing comprehensive cardiac care,” said John Gould, cardiologist. “It will provide patients easier and more timely access to a well-established diagnostic tool in cardiology. Despite advancements in CT and MRI technology, the cardiac catheterization remains the gold standard in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. We look forward to provide this service to appropriate patients.”
CGH was recognized recently for its achievement in implementing the American Heart Association’s and American Stroke Association’s “Get with the Guidelines” program for coronary artery disease and heart failure. The hospital earned the associations’ Gold Award for heart failure in 2011 and 2012 and is recognized as a Center of Excellence for stroke care.
In 2012, CGH was named one of the top hospitals in the state in managing transitions in care and reducing readmissions, and in 2013 it became a participant in the Lean Collaborative program sponsored by the N.C. Hospital Association.
For more information, visit www.carteretgeneral.com.