Valley Medical Center is updating cardiac and vascular services with new labs, technology

Renton patients will no longer need to travel to Seattle or Tacoma for a stroke, arrhythmia diagnosis or advanced imaging of vascular problems

Valley Medical Center introduced advanced cardiac and vascular services to the Renton area March 12.

Instead of patients driving to Tacoma or Seattle for this specific care, physicians and staff will be able to offer arrhythmia treatment, minimally-invasive heart surgeries, heart disease intervention and rehabilitation.

This is especially important for people in the middle of a stroke. Now they can get care quicker and closer.

The treatment area includes new equipment and procedures, hybrid operating room, electrophysiology and cardiac catheterization labs. The new services are expanding the already existing cardiology program.

“To say that we’ve been waiting for this day would be an understatement,” John Wagner, Valley’s vice president for PeriOperative services and imaging, said at the ribbon cutting March 7.

He said in the three years he’s been there, they’ve been designing this space.

The previous area for these procedures were out of date. The rooms were small and had substandard imaging equipment for the most modern cardiac and vascular procedures.

The design wasn’t easy for engineers. The space is in one of the oldest parts of the building from 1969.

Dr. John Nemanich said he started lobbying for new cardiac labs about six years ago.

He said he expected a new lab, and instead they have fortunately ended up with three.

Nemanich also talked about how far cardiac procedures have gone since he began, being able to save patients lives. They were only able to perform emergency procedures until about 2009, when the state legislature allowed coronary interventions.

With the drive of Valley staff and the help of engineers, they were able to advance the project, which costs $15 million.

“This is a state of the art facility. No expense has been spared, they gave us everything we wanted to provide the best physical space and mapping equipment,” Dr. Lee Dolack said of the electrophysiology lab.

Electrophysiology studies will be able to identify arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats. Physicians and staff can then get heartbeats back in sync. Some irregular heartbeats, like atrial fibrillation, can greatly increase the chance of a stroke, according to the center.

The center is opening a multidisciplinary surgical operating room in April. This space allows for advanced procedures for strokes, as well as electrophysiology. The hybrid room is also the “coolest room,” Wagner said, filled with advanced technology.

Theresa Braungardt, chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care services, spoke at the Eyes on Renton Chamber of Commerce event March 7. At the event, she said this expansion will meet the demands for the growing population in the area needing these procedures.

Valley has almost 1,000 cardiac catheterization procedures each year, Braungardt said.

Cardiac catheterization opens blocked vessels in the heart, restoring blood flow and used for some cardiac emergencies and types of heart disease.

Valley already had some testing and diagnosis services for cardiology, including treadmill stress testing and vascular ultrasounds. Several of these tests are non-invasive — they don’t require skin to be pierced.

There was a ribbon cutting for the event March 7 at the main hospital in the special procedure care unit. The Healthy Heart Fair was another chance for people to see the electrophysiology lab March 9.

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