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East End native forced to travel out of area for life-saving cardiac procedure
RIVERHEAD, NY – Active and health-conscious, MaryBeth Roehrig felt an unusual tightness in her chest while working out on a treadmill. Soon after, she felt the same discomfort again while out on a dance floor with her husband, so she made an appointment to see her primary care physician.
Ms. Roehrig, executive assistant to the CEO of Peconic Bay Medical Center, saw her doctor, who referred her to cardiologist, Dr. Stanley Katz, MD, for an appointment two days later.
“I knew of Dr. Katz because he is the director of interventional cardiology at Peconic Bay Medical Center, where I work,” said Ms. Roehrig. “He helped design the cardiac catheterization labs for the new Kanas Regional Heart Center we are building.”
Between appointments, Ms. Roehrig was troubled by more tightness while walking upstairs, and then lying in bed. When she saw Dr. Katz, he immediately scheduled a catheterization procedure to be performed. He prescribed extra medication, with instructions to come to Peconic Bay Medical Center’s emergency department in Riverhead for transport over the weekend if the “episode” repeated.
The Cath Labs at Peconic Bay Medical Center will provide local access to this life-saving resource for nearly a quarter of a million residents of Long Island’s East End. The groundbreaking of the Corey Critical Care Pavilion, which includes the Kanas Regional Heart Center, is the start of a new era for health care on the East End.
“We’re putting the very best in cardiac care in place right here at Peconic Bay Medical Center, as well as quality stroke and trauma services,” said Northwell Health President & CEO Michael Dowling. “Enhancing programs at PBMC is central to Northwell Health’s mission to give Suffolk residents easier access to high-quality care. We’ve already expanded ambulatory services throughout the county. PBMC anchors this growth, helping to meet the community’s health care needs now and in the future.”
“Cath Labs” are used to perform interventional cardiology procedures such as stenting and balloon angioplasty, which are advanced-technology techniques designed to open blocked coronary arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen and vital nutrients to the heart. Blockages that last more than a few moments can result in heart attacks and death.
Because there are no facilities authorized to perform interventional cardiac procedures in or near Riverhead, Ms. Roehrig’s catheterization procedure was scheduled to be performed 60 miles away, at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Ms. Roehrig and her husband drove their own car to Nassau County, where the catheterization revealed two life-threatening blockages, each artery at least 85-percent blocked. Dr. Katz was able to open them through the use of stents.
“I was lucky,” said Ms. Roehrig. “I was a heart attack waiting to happen.”
Ms. Roehrig remained in the hospital overnight for monitoring of her cardiac functioning, and was discharged at 10:30 the following morning. That was a Tuesday. The doctors told her she could return to work on Thursday, if she wished, but her boss told her to take the rest of the week off. Ms. Roehrig is back at work, feeling great.
“I have a new perspective on my work,” said Ms. Roehrig. “We’re breaking ground on a new Heart Center this week. This experience gives me a personal stake in the project.”
Cath Labs to open soon, because every moment counts for heart attack victims
Heart attacks are the result of blockages in the blood vessels that carry oxygen and vital nutrients to the heart. Blockages that last more than a few moments can do irreparable damage to the muscles and tissues of the heart. Cardiac catheterization is a relatively non-invasive technique that can be used to diagnose and treat blockages without open heart surgery. The Kanas Regional Heart Center at Peconic Bay Medical Center will provide immediate local access to advanced artery-opening techniques for nearly a quarter of a million East End residents who, like MaryBeth Roehrig, previously had to travel long distances for the life-saving procedures.
The good news that Ms. Roehrig is ready to share with her East End neighbors: Life-saving interventional cardiology services, including stenting and balloon angioplasty, is coming to our region.
The $60 million, three-story Corey Critical Care Pavilion will be built over the existing Emergency Department, doubling its size. The tower will include a rooftop helipad, two ultra-modern operating cardiac cath suites, an electrophysiology suite, recovery rooms and an 18-bed Intensive Care/Cardiac Care Unit. An expert team of interventional cardiologists who will be working with highly specialized and experienced Registered Nurses and cardiovascular technologists will staff the cath labs. In anticipation of the expansion, as of February 2017, Peconic Bay Medical Center began operating as a Level III Trauma Center after earning provisional status from the NYS Department of Health. It is the only trauma and stroke center on the North Fork.
“The groundbreaking event for our new Corey Critical Care Pavilion, featuring the Kanas Regional Heart Center, is a fitting way to bring increased awareness to the opening of our new Cath Labs,” said Andrew J. Mitchell, President and CEO of Peconic Bay Medical Center. “It is a very visible fulfillment of our promise to bring a higher standard of medical services to the East End.”
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About Peconic Bay Medical Center
Located in Riverhead, NY, Peconic Bay Medical Center is a non-profit hospital committed to providing exceptional care and improving the health of the communities it serves. Peconic Bay Medical Center offers wide-ranging, full-scope services and programs along with state-of-art technology. Peconic Bay Medical Center joined Northwell Health in 2016. For more information, visit PBMCHealth.org.
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals and over 550 outpatient facilities. We care for more than two million people annually in the metro New York area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 62,000 employees – 15,000+ nurses and about 3,900 physicians, including more than 2,800 members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institute. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine and the School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. And we offer health insurance through CareConnect. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu.