Unique collaboration creates integrated cardiac care program

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A unique collaboration between Hamilton Health Sciences and Niagara Health System (NHS) has brought cardiac catheterization services to the new St. Catharines’site of NHS.

The new Heart Investigation Unit enables interventional cardiologists  from Niagara and Hamilton to work together to provide quality, safe, expert cardiac care that is closer to home for Niagara residents. HHS and NHS are committed to the vision of one regional and integrated program delivered at two sites.

“We’re very proud of this collaboration,” said Dr. Madhu Natarajan, interventional cardiologist at Hamilton Health Sciences and regional physician lead for the HHS-NHS integrated heart investigation unit. “Together, we’ve created an unique program that will deliver an enhanced system of cardiac care to those who need it closer to home.”

In the past, all cardiac catheterization procedures were performed in the HIU at Hamilton General Hospital. Opened in 2005, the 32-bed HIU at the General is the largest centre in Ontario, with four state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratories.

Twenty per cent of the patients seen at Hamilton’s cardiac catheterization program last year were Niagara residents. While many patients will now be able to receive care in Niagara, in some instances, patients with more complex needs will continue to go to Hamilton for services.

The new system will include a central triage process unique in the province, providing improved continuity for patients.

Physicians will also have access to online digital images, allowing for immediate consultation and faster care.

“The addition of this new diagnostic service and the ongoing partnership between HHS and NHS is a great step towards providing the best cardiac care possible to the Niagara region,” said Dr. Natarajan.

“Bringing this much-needed service to Niagara will reduce the need for many patients to leave the region for care,” said Susan Kwolek, vice president, patient services, St. Catharines’ site – Niagara Health System. “We are excited about our partnership with the team at Hamilton Health Sciences, and we are so pleased to be able to offer new and enhanced cardiac care services to our community.”

This model is in keeping with the Local Health Integration Network’s  strategic direction of dramatically improving the patient experience by integrating service delivery and is part of the network’s larger plan to create a regional system of care across the Hamilton, Brant, Burlington, Haldimand and Niagara communities.

“I’m very proud of the work this team has done over the past two years,” said Teresa Smith, president, Hamilton General Hospital.

“We’re dedicated to creating a seamless system for patients and enhancing our delivery of care.”