Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Open-heart surgery center debuts

Open-heart surgery center debuts
By Danny Bernardini/
Posted: 04/08/2009

NorthBay Medical Center Cardiac Surgeon Ramzi Deeik discusses the state-of-the-art cardiovascular surgery suite that is set to open within the month at the hospital. (Joel Rosenbaum / The Reporter)

In a room most hope never to visit, folks lined up Tuesday to get a glance at Solano County's first open-heart surgery center.

Employees, media and invited guests were given a tour of the cardiovascular operating room in NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.

The facility is a culmination of 20 years of hoping and four or five years of planning.

"This is the realization of a dream," said Gary Passama, president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare. "We are thrilled."

Five high-definition screens and monitors line the 880-square-foot, $4.6 million high-tech surgical suite. Two cameras -- one installed in the light directly above the surgery -- will catch all the action and footage will be available to use as a teaching tool, or to give back to the patient as a keepsake.

The first surgery is set to take place within a few weeks, while emergency procedures are likely three to six months away. The facility will eventually host 85 to 100 surgeries a year and 150 to 200 interventional procedures.

NorthBay's facility is the first in the county, saving the estimated 1,400 patients who leave the area per year a trip to UC Davis in Sacramento, John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek or Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa.

"Too many patients go too far from home for this specialized service," said Deborah Sugiyama, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group.

On hand Tuesday were Dr. Ramzi Deeik, director of cardiac surgery, and Rob Kling-man who have performed more than 5,500 surgeries. Both men talked about how NorthBay's suite was far more high tech than those in the region.

Klingman explained how a nurse stationed at a computer in the room will control what information is shown on the monitors. He said depending on where he is standing, he can shout out what he wants to see and where.

Included in the technology is the option of picture-in-picture where a surgeon can see a live shot of the surgery and the patient's vital signs on one screen. There is also an option of bringing in other professionals over teleconferencing for advice or teaching.

He said as Americans get more obese and live longer, heart surgeries are increasing.

"It's one or the other," Klingman said. "As you get older, all the things that take your life present themselves."

The surgeons said they will use an "off the pump" style of operating. That means the heart will continue to beat during the surgery, instead of hooking a patient up to a machine.

Along with the heart surgery, both surgeons said they were looking forward to the possibility of eventually performing vascular surgery for patients with lung cancer.