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Northside welcomes catheterization lab
Facility will help detect heart disease
JEN 0192
Oscar Mejia works behind the new cardiac catheterization lab Tuesday at Northside Hospital-Forsyth. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Northside Hospital-Forsyth will open a cardiac catheterization lab next week.

Beginning Tuesday, the local hospital will offer the heart disease detection service, which residents of Forsyth and Dawson counties previously had to travel at least 20 miles to access.

The hospital’s cardiology program has expanded over the past few years, including adding diagnostic services like EKG, stress test equipment, echocardiography, holter monitoring and nuclear testing.

Through the catheterization, a dye is injected into a patient’s arteries, making blockages easier to detect. From the diagnosis, physicians are able to decide the next course of action, said Maureen Wilson, director of the cardiology program.

The lab complements the hospital’s existing ability to handle heart-related issues.

Wilson has previously said the catheterization lab was “really the only thing that we were missing out on.”

“We’ve been waiting to do this a long time and have been planning on it for several years,” she said.

Area residents can look forward to additional improvements at the hospital in 2009.

Among them is the recent approval for a $17 million expansion that calls for adding a story to house a 20-bed observation unit, 20-bed extended recovery unit, ancillary services and administrative space.

The addition would also expand the hospital’s pharmacy and convert 21 inpatient beds to observation beds.

In total, the project includes adding more than 37,400 square feet to the hospital and renovating an additional 6,000 square feet of space.

The expansion will go atop the surgical section of the hospital, which faces Ga. 400. The project is expected to be completed by August 2010.

Skip Putnam, the hospital’s chief executive officer, has said Northside looks forward to “increasing our capacity to care for the growing medical needs of our community.”

“The hospital continues to add services to its already comprehensive offerings,” he said. “Patient utilization continues to increase as our citizens are seeking high-quality health care closer to home.”

The hospital will have a mobile PET/CT scanner for diagnosing and determining the best course of treatment for cancer patients. The scanner will be added sometime in April, according to Russ Davis, hospital spokesman.

In the meantime, the cardiac addition is just days away.

The hospital expects to perform more than 750 procedures within the first year of operating the lab, which will be near the hospital’s radiology department.

E-mail Jennifer Sami at