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Cardiac Services

Cardiac Services Forms & Documents NHS Cardiac Rehab Referral Form

Evolution of cardiac services in Niagara

We are well on our way to developing a comprehensive regional cardiology program in Niagara to respond to the growing and complex needs of our patients.

In addition to enhancing services and infrastructure over the last several years, NHS recently recruited four full-time cardiologists.

Among recent enhancements to our cardiac services, in June of 2012 the Department of Medicine created a Coronary Care Unit. Cardiologists treat patients admitted to the Coronary Care Unit and also provide care to patients in other areas of the hospital.

A Cardiac Rapid Assessment Clinic was also established in June 2012. Cardiologists see approximately 6 to 8 patients in this clinic each day. The focus of this clinic is to prevent hospital admission, shorten length of admissions for patients who are admitted, reduce wait times, and improve overall quality of life for patients with chronic heart conditions. The opening of the new St. Catharines Site brings significant service changes and enhancements to the community of Niagara, including the introduction of a state-of-the-art regional Heart Investigation Unit.

Among services provided in the Heart Investigation Unit is cardiac catheterization, a new service in Niagara which includes procedures to diagnose and assess the severity of cardiac disease and evaluate the suitability of a patient for angioplasty, surgery, and other therapy or interventions.

The Heart Investigation Unit at the new St. Catharines Site boasts 7,000 square feet of dedicated space. Cardiac patients receive care throughout the hospital.

The Heart Investigation Unit is integrated with Hamilton Health Sciences. The two organizations have committed to a vision of one regional and integrated program delivered at two sites. Specialist physicians will provide cardiac catheterization services in both Hamilton and Niagara, with plans for a lead physician based in Niagara.

Until the new St. Catharines Site opened, all cardiac catheterization procedures were performed at the Hamilton General Hospital’s Heart Investigation Unit. One-third of the patients seen at Hamilton’s cardiac catheterization program last year were Niagara residents. Bringing this much-needed service to Niagara will reduce the need for many patients to leave the region for care. In some instances, patients with more complex needs continue to go to Hamilton for services. This model is in keeping with our Local Health Integration Network’s goal of access to quality, safe care closer to home and is part of the LHIN’s larger plan to create a regional system of care across the Hamilton, Brant, Burlington and Niagara communities.

Cardiac catheterization is recommended when a partial or complete arterial blockage is suspected. This diagnostic procedure is used to evaluate how well the heart is functioning and to obtain information about blockages. The procedure is performed in the hospital and usually takes two to three hours.

By increasing the capacity in Niagara, the NHS anticipates improved outcomes for our patients needing cardiac catheterization. In addition, the cardiac program will continue to evolve to provide interventional care.

With this new model of care, Internal Medicine specialists will continue to provide cardiac care at our other acute care sites, including stress testing and echocardiograms. Patients with chest pain will continue to be cared for in our EDs and inpatient units at our other acute care sites. They will be transferred to our St. Catharines site if they require a higher level of care.

The Heart Function Clinic helps outpatients from across Niagara who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure, by closely monitoring their condition and managing their symptoms. The goal is to improve quality of life. A multi-disciplinary team of healthcare practitioners works together to provide care to patients in a variety of areas, including; assessment, monitoring and treatment; pharmacological management; patient and caregiver education in such areas as medication, exercise, smoking cessation, and dietary education.

Patients who have recently experienced some kind of cardiac event like a heart attack, angioplasty, are awaiting heart surgery or have angina, congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy can access the Cardiac Health and Rehabilitation program through a physician referral. This regional program offers a variety of cardiovascular rehabilitation and risk reduction services such as; supervised exercise programs, nutrition counseling, stress management, smoking cessation and health teaching in both group and individual forum.