Hospital cath lab reopened

Published 12:05 am Saturday, June 13, 2015

By Leah Schwarting & Vershal Hogan

NATCHEZ — Merit Health Natchez reopened this week the hospital’s inactive cardiac catheterization lab for diagnostic purposes and announced a date for the temporary move of most surgical procedures to the Merit Health Natchez — Community Campus.

Starting June 17, the Community Campus will serve as the home for all surgeries to allow for renovations to the operating rooms at Merit Health Natchez, formerly Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Email newsletter signup

Hospital officials said patients with surgical needs would be transported to the Community Campus as much as possible in order to reserve resources, while those without potential surgical needs will continue to be treated at Merit Health Natchez.

Endoscopies will continue to be performed at both campuses.

“We appreciate the flexibility of our patients, physicians and employees as we begin work on the improved surgical department,” said Eric Robinson, Merit Health Natchez chief executive officer.

The renovations to the operating room will include the addition of an extra operating table and general upgrades such as new lighting and improved infection control measures.

The construction is expected to be done by the early fall in advance of the planned consolidation of the hospitals.

The reopening of the heart catheterization lab reactivates a service that had been mothballed since before the hospitals’ current ownership took over. Residents needing catheterization services had been forced to go out of town — and in some cases, out of state — for the procedure since the closure.

The heart catheterization lab will open for diagnostic purposes, but is not designed to perform procedures in an emergency, hospital representatives said.

“With the enhancements we have made and the support of our physicians, we are pleased to be able to offer this service close to home for Natchez and surrounding residents,” Robinson said.

The lab was originally closed a year ago. The prior owners were not able to make equipment and service line improvements and the Certificate of Need expired.

Since the hospital’s request to renew the certificate has been approved and software and equipment upgrades installed, the lab is ready for business.

Dr. Vikram Dulam and Dr. Brad LeMay will be working with the new equipment and providing patients with the services they need

“Cardiac catheterizations are one of our most important tools that we use to evaluate heart function and diagnose cardiovascular conditions in our patients,” said Dr. Vikram Dulam, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. “I look forward to seeing my patients in the reopened location at Merit Health Natchez.”

The reopened diagnostic lab will help doctors determine if there is any damage or disease in a patient’s heart’s muscle, valves or arteries.

“Reopening the cath lab brings back an important resource to the Natchez community,” Cardiologist Dr. Brad LeMay said. “Having this service available locally will make access to diagnostic procedures more convenient and closer to home for my patients.”

By diagnosing cardiac conditions early, physicians can determine whether or not interventional treatment is needed. An early diagnosis can result in better outcomes for the patient.

Robinson said the hospital expects approximately 400 patients to utilize the lab annually.