From left to right, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South team members in the hospital’s new cardiac catheterization laboratory, Glorianne Ruiz Ojeda, Brian Frazier and Kristy Bellamy.

February is American Heart Month and St. Joseph’s Hospital-South is celebrating the opening of its fourth cardiac catheterization laboratory. The cardiac cath lab is a surgical suite where procedures such as angioplasties and stents are performed; angioplasties and stents open up blood vessels in heart patients. This lab is also where pacemakers and defibrillators are surgically implanted into patients.

In addition to cardiac catheterization procedures, the lab is also used for interventional radiology (IR) procedures. Interventional radiology is a specialty that uses imaging technology to diagnose and treat conditions without the need for surgery. IR procedures involving kidneys, the liver and cancerous tumors are among those done in the cath lab.

“The cardiac cath lab is where we can treat everything in your circulatory system and blood vessels,” said Brian Frazier, St. Joseph’s Hospital-South’s interventional services manager, who oversees the hospital’s cath labs. “We treat anything going wrong in a patient’s extremities, your heart and all things that connect those pieces. The cardiac cath lab is a place where we can open up plaque and clear pathways using balloons and stents.”

Approximately 3,400 procedures are done annually in St. Joseph’s Hospital-South’s cath labs. Frazier, who began with the hospital when it first opened in 2015, said it originally had two cath labs. A third was added three years after opening.

Frazier said the growth of the area and the Riverview hospital necessitated the expansion to four cath labs. St. Joseph’s Hospital-South has more than doubled in capacity to its current size of 223 beds since opening.

“Our volume has increased,” Frazier said. “We’ve added more doctors with hospital privileges, bringing us more patients — we’ve had to accommodate them. We’re meeting the needs brought on by the population growth in the community.”

As manager of 17 team members working in the cath labs, Frazier said he’s tried to instill a culture of “work family.”

“The notion of a work family is what I believe separates us and BayCare in general,” he said. “We do not treat patients as numbers, BayCare doesn’t do this. Team members know this, and I believe the community knows this when they come here for treatment. We take care of our patients like we would take care of our family members. We’re here for something bigger than ourselves, we’re a team and work family. To me that’s the most important thing.”

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