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Houston Hospital Expanding Heart Unit

7:27 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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Matters of the heart take center stage on Valentine's Day.

For this story, we're not talking about the one's you give your sweetheart; rather the ones that give life.

Caring for your heart could become more convenient in Warner Robins with an addition to the Houston Heart Institute.

Doctors working on a patient in Houston Healthcare's Cardiac Catheter lab may have only minutes to save a life.

People come to the lab in the midst of a heart attack, says Nurse Manager Ray Jones.

Jones said, "We can open that artery, and the goal is to do it as quickly as possible."

He calls time critical saying, "After 90 minutes, irreversable damage to the heart muscle can occur."

In the past, patients traveled to Macon for the procedure. Now, it's offered in Warner Robins, but space is limited with one lab and six recovery rooms.

Jones said they sometimes handle 17 patients a day or more than 1,400 last year. He said, "It becomes a scheduling nightmare for us, if we don't have a place to put them."

That's why they're in the process of an $8 million expansion, adding two cardiac labs and doubling the number of recovery rooms. That will bring care closer to many people's homes.

Jones said, "I always equate it to having a fire house close to you. If your house is on fire, you want to have a fire house as close to you as you can have it. A fire department in Macon is fine if you're close to it. It's the same thing if you having a heart attack."

The expansion is under construction now, scheduled for completion in about a year, and according to Jones, holds the potential to save lives well into the future.

Houston Healthcare is also working on a major expansion of its surgical, endoscopy and pain clinic units.

That project has gotten the go ahead from the state's Department of Community Health, but they're waiting on approval of the design before construction can begin.

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