Vital upgrades to cardiac catheterization labs enhance patient care

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Northwestern Ontario has higher than average rates of cardiac disease. Now, those in need of treatment for complex heart disease, including heart attacks, have access to brand-new equipment in the cardiac catheterization labs at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC).

“Since 2011, we have had two catheterization labs in Thunder Bay, providing 24/7 service to patients in our community,” explains Dr. Mark Henderson, Executive Vice President, Patient Services, TBRHSC and Regional Vice President, Cancer Care Ontario. “Direct angioplasty is the gold standard for treatment of a heart attack and having two labs available meant we could treat patients right away, prevent further damage and save lives. The equipment in our older lab was installed in 2005, and after 10 years of heavy use, it needed to be replaced to ensure we could continue to provide life-saving care for our patients.”

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The catheterization labs provide 24/7 services for emergent cardiac cases, as well as 80 hours of scheduled cases each week. Altogether in one year, interventional cardiologists provide 2,150 cardiac catheterizations, 710 percutaneous coronary interventions (angioplasty with a stent), and 210 pacemaker insertions.

Each lab is equipped with a C-arm and imaging equipment to allow cardiologists to visualize the inside of arteries. In the original lab, the C-arm has been completely replaced, along with associated imaging equipment at a price of $1.4 million. The second, newer lab has also received necessary software upgrades to its existing equipment.

“What is so incredible about the new C-arm is that the new unit gives us added capabilities, including 3D images, which give us a better view of the inside of the arteries,” says Dr. Andrea MacDougall, Interventional Cardiologist, Medical Program Director Cardiovascular and Stroke and Chief of Cardiology, TBRHSC. “Another advantage is that the new unit exposes patients to less radiation than before, without sacrificing image quality, which is of utmost importance.”

“It is reassuring to know as a patient that our interventional cardiologists like Dr. Henderson and Dr. MacDougall have the best equipment available to continue to provide life saving services to patients here at home that may require their intervention,” says Lawrence Dorey, a patient who received his first stent in Ottawa, and his second in Thunder Bay. “I am deeply thankful to all the donors who made this possible – there’s really no way to express how much of a difference it meant to me and my family to be able to receive my care here.”

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“The quality of patient care and innovation in the field of healthcare are at the heart of the J.Armand Bombardier Foundation and Bombardier employees. The J.Armand Bombardier Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to provide funding support to help the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre treat patients and to facilitate the delivery of contemporary health care to community residents and our employees in a familiar setting,” says George Gasbarrino of the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation. “The upgrades to the Cardiac Catheterization Labs will help offer sustainable, consistent services for years to come. Improving lives is embedded within Bombardier’s purpose, and our employees take great pride to provide support that will improve access to quality health care for the community and our families.”

“When we think about the care we want for our families and friends, we know that we are not willing to settle for substandard care. Donors, like the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation, along with Balmoral Park Acura, and countless others are absolutely vital in ensuring that we have equipment in Thunder Bay that allows our interventional cardiologists to perform life-saving procedures,” says Tracey Nieckarz, Chair, Board of Directors, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “I’m very thankful that our community recognizes the critical importance of donations to our cardiac care program. At this time, we are still raising funds to complete the purchase of the new C-arm and other new equipment for our cath labs, and I encourage people to make a donation to help fulfill our commitment to this project which is directly responsible for saving lives.”