New cardiac lab, a $5 million investment, set to open at L+M
A $5 million lab opening next month at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital will allow doctors to treat heart attack victims and those with vascular blockages with new technology and more room for recovery.
A partnership between Yale New Haven and L+M first brought emergency angioplasty, in which doctors insert a catheter with a balloon-like attachment into the blocked artery of heart attack victims and inflate it to clear the vessel and restore blood flow before installing a stent, to L+M in 2006. That program was suspended later that year because the hospital did not have enough cardiologists to sustain it, though it resumed in 2008.
In 2013, L+M became the first hospital in Connecticut to offer elective angioplasty for patients with non-emergency blockages without also having the in-house capability to perform open-heart surgery, a service previously available only at larger hospitals such as Yale and Hartford Hospital.
The hospital's staff treat between 100 and 120 emergency heart attack victims a year, and about 100 patients with non-emergency heart blockages.
Those services evolved into a heart and vascular program that can treat not only patients with heart blockages but also people who have vascular blockages in their limbs, said Dr. Brian Cambi, an interventional cardiologist and the medical director of the Yale New Haven Health Heart and Vascular Center at L+M.
By last year, the fifth-floor lab and its equipment were more than a dozen years old and out of date.
"It was what we call 'end-of-life,'" Cambi said "It was dated."
The new lab is the second major capital investment in the hospital since it affiliated with the Yale New Haven Health system in 2016, after the installation of a new electronic medical records system in 2017.
The lab will allow Cambi and other cardiovascular doctors to be able to continue work on patients with heart blockages but also treat those who need stents in other parts of the vascular system, who previously were sent to Yale New Haven for treatment.
"We want to try to be able to do any and all procedures that are appropriate for patients ... as long as we can do them at the same level of quality and the same level of safety that we would ... at Yale," he said. "We wanted to invest in such a way that would allow us to do that."
The lab also will expand hospital doctors' ability to perform electrophysiology tests that help determine the cause of abnormal heartbeats or heart muscle weakness, and to insert pacemakers and defibrillators.
"This lab now, unlike every lab we've had before, is ... state-of-the-art in terms of technology but also in terms of the conditions inside the lab," he said.
New air circulation systems will reduce the risk of infection, and a large display screen shows doctors multiple views of the procedure and patients' vital signs.
A new recovery area gives more room for patients and can accommodate two more people at a time than the previous lab.
Patients still will travel to Yale or another larger hospital if they need open-heart surgery such as valve replacement or heart transplants, Cambi said.
When another cardiac lab on the hospital's third floor becomes too old to use, the newer fifth-floor lab has enough extra room to expand, Cambi said. That lab will continue to be of use for emergency angioplasty.
After a Department of Public Health inspection and some final tweaks — an automatic door into the lab procedure room was not yet operational on Wednesday — the lab will open for scheduled vascular procedures June 12.