Expanding Lifesaving Heart Care in Lancaster County

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The highly skilled specialists of WellSpan Cardiology (formerly Heart Specialists of Lancaster County) now treat narrowed arteries in WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital’s new percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) laboratory. These specialists perform both angioplasty and stent placement to help area residents live healthier, more productive lives.

“With the addition of the PCI lab, we do not need to transfer a patient to another facility to catheterize a second time,” explains Lokesh Gowda, MD, interventional cardiologist, WellSpan Cardiology. “Now we can check for blockages and then perform any necessary intervention at the same time in most cases, making the experience much easier on the patient.

“WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital has a fully functional cardiac catheterization lab that was easily adapted to perform PCI,” Dr. Gowda says.

Experienced and skilled physicians were already part of the practice, and a full range of diagnostic and imaging technology existed in the catheterization lab.

“We needed to implement best practices and hire staff to perform this procedure at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital,” Dr. Gowda adds. “In addition, we needed the specific materials and supplies used in PCI procedures, as well as review and approval from the Department of Health.”

He estimates that the program could see as many as 150 patients in its first year. He will perform these procedures along with his colleagues Scott Riebel, MD, and Patrick Fitzsimmons II, MD.

WECH-Front Entrance -full

WECH-Cath Lab -full

Providing these procedures locally means more than just convenience for patients and families — it can be a matter of life and death, says Dr. Fitzsimmons, one of the community’s newest interventional cardiologists.

“It’s exciting to be part of getting this kind of advanced medicine up and running,” he says. “The sooner we can open a blocked artery during a heart attack, the better a patient’s chances are of making a full recovery. Having this technology and expertise available locally is a huge investment that will have a significant impact on outcomes in our community.”

Until recently, PCI couldn’t be performed by a hospital in Pennsylvania unless it also offered cardiothoracic surgery backup. This meant people in northern and eastern Lancaster County who needed PCI had to travel to another hospital.

“This is a game changer for WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital and the community,” says Julie Miksit, Vice President, WellSpan Heart & Vascular. “Patients who are experiencing minor chest pain no longer have to go to two different places for their diagnosis and treatment. Now it can be done all at once. It’s convenient and patients appreciate that.”

She adds that the hospital offers PCI on both an emergent and an elective basis.

To refer a patient to WellSpan Cardiology in Lancaster County, call 717-738-0167. For more information about WellSpan’s PCI program, visit www.WellSpan.org/HV.