Midtown Medical Center in Columbus has begun remodeling and construction work costing about $1 million to prepare for therapeutic cardiac catheterization procedures it will begin performing by mid-February.
“We currently see approximately 10 to 12 cardiac cases come through our Emergency and Trauma Center per month, that are transferred out to other facilities. We believe we will not have to transfer the majority of those cases out,” said Anne Holmes, spokeswoman for Columbus Regional Health, which owns and operates Midtown Medical Center, as well as Northside Medical Center and Doctors Specialty Hospital.
Midtown Medical Center received state approval nearly a year ago — when it was still named The Medical Center — to go ahead with the procedures, which requires the installation of heart stents in patients to reopen clogged arteries.
The catherization lab is being created on the third floor of the hospital, encompassing 3,000 square feet of space. Holmes said it will not prompt the relocation of any other departments.
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“The cardiac cath lab allowed us to hire three additional staff members,” she said. “Total staffing for the department is seven. We did not hire any physicians ... But we are working with all of the local physicians who will do procedures here.”
Local heart doctors may opt to do elective surgeries at the hospital, she said, although there is no estimate of how many that could be over the course of a year.
Midtown Medical Center was not required to receive the customary certificate of need from the Georgia Department of Community Health for the new services. Instead, it was eligible for an exemption offered under legislation passed in 2008 by the Georgia General Assembly to expand treatment in certain areas with the goal of improving patient outcomes.
The move puts the hopsital in competition with St. Francis Hospital on Manchester Expressway, which is the only certified heart-surgery center in Columbus. The Medical Center had previously been able to handle heart diagnostic services, but this adds the ability to install stents as well.
There are an estimated 900 such catheterization procedures performed in the city each year, with St. Francis Hospital and about 15 affiliated cardiologists doing roughly 300 open-heart surgeries annually.
Ryan Chandler, president and chief executive officer of Midtown Medical Center, said an agreement has been reached with East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, about a 45-minute drive away, to receive any patients in need of emergency heart surgery. It also has agreements with emergency medical service providers in the area to transport patients there.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Robins & Morton Group is handling the construction involved with the new catherization lab. The company also has worked on other recent projects at the hospital, including the Pediatric Emergency Room and the Emergency and Trauma Center.