The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 11, 2012

Heart experts team up: UPMC is backup for Somerset’s cath lab

Randy Griffith

SOMERSET — A new partnership connects Somerset Hospital’s groundbreaking cardiovascular program with UPMC Health System’s heart doctors.

The collaboration identifies UPMC as the backup heart program for Somerset’s cardiac catheterization laboratory, which provides local patients with emergency and scheduled stent-placement surgery to open blocked coronary arteries.

“We are very pleased to bring the expertise of the UPMC Health System closer to the residents of Somerset County,” Somerset Chief Financial Officer Ron Park said. “This partnership allows Somerset to broaden its cardiovascular services for the benefit of our community residents.”

In 2002, Somerset became the first hospital in the state authorized to operate a cath lab without an open-heart surgery program.

As a condition of its approval, Somerset had to name a heart program as its backup.

Conemaugh Health System’s heart surgery program at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown has served in that role.

“From a quality standpoint, we never had any issues with Conemaugh,” Park said. “We are trying to broaden the scope of what we are doing in cardiology.”

The partnership brings interventional cardiologist Dr. Pradeep Nair to Somerset in January to join his father, Dr. V. Krishnan Nair, Somerset’s cardiology services medical director. Pradeep Nair received his cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology training through UPMC.

“In the short term and the long term, this helps us solidify our cardiology program and provide a good 24-7 model for the cath lab,” Somerset Chief Operating Officer Craig Saylor said.

The availability of cardiac catheterization procedures has proven beneficial for Somerset’s rural communities, Park said.

“Having the service locally definitely saves lives,” Park said. “I think the research that has been done since 2002 supports very clearly hospitals being able to do that (service) in a rural setting.”

UPMC’s heart team is looking forward to bringing more to the Somerset area, cardiology Director Dr. Joon Sup Lee said.

“UPMC has made many important contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular medicine, and we are excited to bring the resources of our cardiac programs to Somerset and the surrounding community,” Lee said.

The transition to UPMC from Conemaugh’s collaboration should be seamless for Somerset’s patients, Saylor said, adding that more services will be introduced as the new partnership grows.

Cardiac electrophysiology and heart failure clinics are in the works, UPMC spokeswoman Jennifer C. Yates said.

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