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Washington County Hospital cuts ribbon for new Cardiac Catheterization Labs

April 24, 2008

HAGERSTOWN -- A state-of-the-art heart procedure now offered at Washington County Hospital saved Margaret Gonano's life, the 85-year-old Keedysville resident said Thursday morning after the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hospital's new Cardiac Catheterization Labs.

Heart patients had been transported to larger hospitals in metropolitan areas for the emergency angioplasty procedure now offered in Hagerstown.

After Gonano was admitted April 5 to Washington County Hospital, she was one of the first heart patients to undergo the procedure.

"I was quite active before, and I expect to be the same soon," Gonano said.

The new cath lab offers "state-of-the-art treatment for heart attack patients," said Dr. Jeff Jones, chief of staff and director of the lab.

A hospital spokeswoman said the labs cost $1.7 million.

For heart patients with acute problems, "time is muscle," said Debbie Malick, a registered nurse and director of critical-care services.

The sooner a blocked artery is opened so oxygen can reach the heart, the less chance the heart muscle will die, she said.

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The Maryland Health Care Commission last year gave a waiver to Washington County Hospital and hospitals in Carroll and Frederick counties so they could offer the coronary intervention, which previously was restricted to hospitals that also offered open heart surgery.

The lab in Hagerstown is part of a dramatic expansion of emergency treatment, said Dr. Mark Midei of St. Joseph Hospital in Towson, Md., which has partnered with Washington County Hospital to provide any additional treatment that heart patients need.

Dr. Feroz Padder, head of the heart center at the hospital, expects the cath labs at Washington County Hospital to serve about double the number of patients that other cath labs serve, he said Thursday. Because the hospital serves a four-state region, he expects that patients will be transferred there from smaller hospitals, he said.

Having the new labs in Hagerstown helps not only the patients' outcome, but also families. Now, families no longer have to drive to hospitals in other cities, but can remain with their loved ones locally, Padder said.

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