Dr. Pradeep Nair has enjoyed his time in the big-city medical world, but he’s thrilled to be coming home to Somerset and continue the family tradition of serving the rural community.
A new affiliation this year will not only allow Somerset Hospital to expand its cardiology services with UPMC Health System’s experts, it will allow Pradeep Nair to join his father and veteran heart doctor, V. Krishnan Nair, in caring for their neighbors.
“Somerset Hospital has a long tradition of providing the highest quality cardiovascular care in a rural setting,” Pradeep Nair said. “We will maintain and enhance the scope of services available to the people in Somerset.”
Ten years ago, Somerset became one of 11 Pennsylvania hospitals to offer life-saving balloon angioplasty without an on-site heart surgery program. Angioplasty is part of an overall interventional cardiology that includes both diagnostic, preventive and emergency heart care with the use of catheterization and stenting.
In recent years, Somerset worked with Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown to provide support, but the new affiliation connects Somerset with UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. The partnership will allow the Nairs to provide services in patients with more severe blockages and also bring in some of UPMC’s other heart experts for specialized clinics, Pradeep Nair said.
Expanded services coming to Somerset include cardiac electrophysiology, which uses pacemakers and implanted defibrillators to treat irregular heartbeat issues. There also could be more use of mechanical support devices to help the heart function.
“It’s a higher level of care,” Pradeep Nair said.
But bringing a quality medical expertise to Somerset is nothing new, Krishnan Nair said. It has been his goal since he completed cardiology training more than 30 years ago.
“In the early 1980s, cardiologists all went to the big city,” Krishnan Nair said. “The rural people did not get to see the cardiologist. They had to travel to the city.”
He saw an opportunity to bring the expertise to the rural population here and opened his practice in 1980.
“I concentrate all my efforts in Somerset,” he said.
But Somerset’s proximity to both Johnstown and Pittsburgh has allowed Krishnan Nair to work with leading experts and helped him keep up with the latest advances.
“Everything in cardiology is evidence-based,” he said. “It should be the same treatment all over the world.”
The heart care advances he has seen in his three decades have been nothing short of revolutionary, Krishnan Nair said. In 1980, heart attack patients were confined to bed for three weeks to recover. There really was not much treatment.
“Their heart muscle got damaged,” Krishnan Nair said. “We just sat by. Now when someone has a heart attack, we can open (their blockages) right away.
“Prevention has evolved 100 percent. It is saving lives.”
In Somerset’s heart catheterization lab, the doctors feed long wires through blood vessels to the patient’s heart to open blocked blood vessels with a balloon. Then a stent – a tiny tube – can be inserted to keep the vessel open and supplying oxygen to heart muscle. Catheters also can be used diagnostically to measure blockages.
“We want to provide state-of-the-art services to diagnostics and treatment of cardiac disease,” Krishnan Nair said.
More complicated cases can be referred to any hospital the patients choose, but many of them will be treated at UPMC in Pittsburgh, where Pradeep Nair will continue seeing patients one day a week.
But the younger doctor is happy to be working in Somerset the other four days a week.
“I’m home,” Pradeep Nair said. “I have been away since 1994. It is good to be back.”
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