Cardiologists are now performing heart procedures in Sault Area Hospital’s new cardiac catheterization lab.
The hospital completed its first patient case in the new cath lab Jan. 29, according to a SAH social media post.
“The current cath lab has now been taken out of service and will undergo renovations as well as a complete equipment upgrade,” SAH wrote.
The new cardiac cath lab will see cardiologists performing angioplasty and cardiac stenting services and both labs will be fully operational and available for 24/7 patient care by the end of May 2024, SAH states.
Both labs will be equipped with upgraded imaging equipment.
SAH’s completion of the first patient case in the new cath lab on Jan. 29 is the latest development in a long but necessary effort to provide improved cardiac care for Sault and area patients.
SAH began to seek Ontario Ministry of Health approval to perform angioplasty at its Great Northern Road facility in 2016.
Angioplasty is a procedure in which a catheter is used on a cardiac patient to insert a stent to open up clogged blood vessels in the heart.
To have angioplasty offered at SAH would be the most beneficial medical development at the hospital since local radiation treatments were made available, said Ron Gagnon, SAH’s president and CEO at that time.
After the Ministry of Health approved the expansion of cardiac care services at SAH with the introduction of angioplasty in July 2017, SAH performed its first angioplasty procedure on a local patient in August 2018.
Previously, approximately 400 Sault and area patients annually had to travel to other hospitals such as Sudbury’s Health Sciences North or Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital for procedures such as angioplasty.
St. Michael’s Hospital cardiologists still play a large role in performing cardiac procedures at SAH.
SAH cardiologists work at the cath lab assisted by five cardiologists from St. Michael's Hospital who work at SAH on a rotational basis.
Sault MPP Ross Romano announced nearly $6.4 million in funding in Sept. 2022 for a renovation and expansion of SAH’s cardiac cath lab.
The addition of the second cardiac cath lab will allow SAH to complete nearly 2,400 procedures each year once fully operational, including coronary angiograms, angioplasty, cardiac stenting and pacemaker services.
“The second lab will allow for an increase in the number of procedures that we are able to complete on an annual basis and reduce any wait times while supporting care for coronary intervention closer to home,” said Sue Roger, SAH vice president of clinical operations and chief nursing executive following that announcement.
"This is vital for the work we need to do. There is a growing need that is projected for Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma that we will address over time,” Roger said.
The total cost of SAH’s second cardiac cath lab project including equipment and construction is $11 million.
The project was made possible through the efforts of the Sault Area Hospital Foundation (SAHF), donors and provincial government funding.