Hospital Shows off New Cath Lab Equipment
Christa Dean Hild
PANAMA CITY— A local hospital’s doctors and staff showed off an updated cardiac catheterization lab Tuesday, freshly outfitted with new technology that will reduce radiation exposure for patients being tested for heart disease.
BayMedical CenterSacred Heart Health System has five such cath labs and two of them received equipment upgrades in the last two months, which cost $2 million.
The cardiologists raved about the new equipment, with Dr. Amir Haghighat calling it “awesome” and a “huge improvement.” It replaces machines that were 17 years old.
The machines work by injecting dye in a patient's arteries, which allow doctors to look for blockages.
Haghighat estimated the new equipment requires less than half the dye and radiation needed before. He said that’s “critically important” for elderly patients and those with renal disease.
The interventional cardiologist also said having a top-notch cardiac department requires talented doctors and a strong support staff, but also up-to-date equipment.
“The final piece is … the technology and the investment in technology,” he said.
Haghighat gushed about the 56-inch flat screens in the lab, which allow the doctors to see blockages at less than 1 millimeter resolution and aid them as they place stints. He likened the large screen to the 160-foot-wide Jumbotron screen at the Cowboys Stadium and said in some procedures “every millimeter counts.”
“What we have here is technology and tools to help us expand what we can provide our patients in this community,” he said.
Haghighat was joined by cardiologist and electrophysiologist Joe Trantham who said it’s “critical” to get accurate images of the heart.
“We are thrilled to have this new equipment,” Trantham said, adding, “We look forward to using it and hope eventually one of these days we can create a situation where this is no longer needed and heart disease is history.”
Both doctors pointed out and expressed appreciation that the hospital’s new owners shelled out millions for the equipment. The hospital went private last year under a 40-year lease and is now owned by joint venture partners LHP Hospital Group and Sacred Heart Health System.
The hospital likely won’t be updating the equipment in the other three cath labs any time soon. They are “relatively new,” Trantham said. Of the three, the one most recently updated was done in 2009.