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Got Rhythm?

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NEW ALBANY, IN Since it opened its doors in 2006, the Floyd Memorial Heart and Vascular Center has been breaking new ground in Southern Indiana. The area’s first, and only, open heart surgery program, Floyd Memorial’s comprehensive services allow Southern Indiana residents to get the latest treatments without crossing the Ohio River into Louisville.

The newest addition to Floyd Memorial’s cardiac services is a cardiac electrophysiology (EP) lab, which opened in September 2014. “We have had two cardiac cath labs for several years, but one of the areas we were missing was EP studies,” says Daniel Eichenberger, MD, chief medical officer for Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services. In addition to providing a needed service to the community, Eichenberger says, “It will increase our specialty referrals from surrounding counties for procedures not offered on this side of the river.”

A specially outfitted cardiac catheterization lab, the EP lab is used to diagnose and treat problems related to the electrical activity of the heart, or cardiac rhythms. “The electrophysiologists map the electrical system of the heart, find where the problem arises, and using different techniques, can actually stop an accessory track from firing at an inappropriate time,” says Eichenberger. “Using mapping and medications, they can figure out what’s best for the patient.”

Cardiac electrophysiology is its own specialty and therefore required Floyd Memorial to create a new training program to launch the EP program with appropriately qualified staff. Floyd Memorial has recently employed Satya Garimella, MD, to provide EP services. Three University of Louisville physicians also provide EP services – Gregory Deam, MD, Rakesh Gopinathannair, MD, and Brad S. Sutton, MD, as well as Baptist Medical Associates’ John M. Mandrola, MD.

While physicians at Floyd Memorial already had the ability to place pacemakers, the new EP lab and staff have expanded treatment options to include other implantable devices such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs).

Eichenberger, an internal medicine and pediatric specialist who has been a physician at Floyd Memorial since 1992, can particularly appreciate the benefits the EP lab provides in the continuum of care for patients. “Especially from a primary care standpoint, in the past, if we had a patient with rhythm problems, our option was to have a general cardiologist see them, and they were typically limited to medication only to fix the rhythm,” says Eichenberger. Upon discharge from the hospital, the patient would have to follow up with an EP physician in Louisville as an outpatient and potentially schedule a procedure in Louisville. Now, says Eichenberger, “If it’s an urgent procedure, we can have a physician see the patient while they’re here in the hospital, get the study scheduled, and get them back home without all the other delays.”

To educate area primary care physicians about the new services, Gopinathannair will be doing outreach courses. Because EP is relatively new, Eichenberger says physicians may not realize, “They don’t have to go through general cardiology; they can go straight to EP. It’s a mindset family practice and internal medicine physicians haven’t been trained in.”

Turn Up the Volume

In addition to expanding its services, Floyd Memorial’s Heart and Vascular Center continues to grow its volume. Eichenberger says the center’s growth is not only on track, but “probably above some estimates. The program is very highly rated compared to national benchmarks.”

The new EP lab has been used for about 10 EP studies, and it is also doing double duty as an overflow cath lab, something that was much needed. “Our volume in two cath labs has been in excess of 80 percent, and usually when you hit 70 percent and above, that’s the typical indicator your volumes are at capacity,” says Eichenberger.

All in all, it seems Floyd Memorial is keeping beat with Southern Indiana’s heart needs.