More than 50 visitors got a tour Thursday of several relatively new features at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside, including a surgical suite where doctors can perform a valve replacement that used to require open heart surgery without opening a patient’s chest.
The visit was organized by the JAX Chamber and led by St. Vincent’s HealthCare administrators, including CEO Moody Chisholm.
The first stop for Chisholm’s group — the tour was split into three groups — was a “hybrid” operating room that opened last August. In that operating room, surgeons can perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) therapy.
This is an option for people who are in the end stages of heart disease with failing aortic valves. Such people are so sick that open heart surgery is not an option, said Mark A. Mostovych, a cardiac thoracic and vascular surgeon.
In the TAVR procedure, a catheter is inserted through femeral artery in the thigh and run up to the heart. A balloon is then used the push the malfunctioning aortic valve aside as an Edwards Sapien valve replaces it.
Thus far, 29 successful TAVR procedures have been performed at St. Vincent’s Riverside, which is one of only 13 Florida hospitals doing the procedure, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011.
Chisholm then led his group to the Gamma Knife Center, which opened in November 2011. The Perfexion Gamma Knife is used to treat tumors in the head and neck and to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a facial nerve condition so agonizingly painful that it is also called suicide disease.
Patients start their stay at the center by having a metal cage attached to their skulls before undergoing an MRI, said Elaine Murtha, the center’s director of imaging. Physicians use the MRI, which picks up the position of the metal cage, to identify a treatment plan.
Patients are then taken to the lead-lined gamma knife room, where the metal cage is attached to the machine in order to prevent any movement of the head, said Michelle Neeley, a physicist.
Inside the machine, 192 different sources of radiation are focused on the tumor or the troublesome nerve. Altogether the process from arrival to departure lasts about four hours. Treatment with the gamma knife is a one-time procedure and most patients begin to see their symptoms abate within a couple of weeks, Neeley said.
The third stop on the tour was at St. Vincent’s Riverside’s Orthopedic Center of Excellence, a designation the orthopedic wing received three years ago from the Joint Commission, an accrediting organization for hospitals.
Orthopedic surgeon David Heekin talked about the growing rate of knee and hip replacement and the growing emphasis on physical therapy, both in preparation for the surgery and post-surgery. All joint replacement patients are expected to begin walking almost immediately and can get in and out of bed and walk at least 50 feet by discharge time, usually within three days, he said.
Some of those on the tour also took a bus ride to St. Vincent’s Medical Center Southside where they visited the neonatal intensive care unit that opened last October. Unlike most neonatal intensive care units, which place infants close to one another in a large room, St. Vincent’s Southside’s unit features 10 private suites.