Windber opens ‘state-of-the-art’ heart center

August 3, 2018

With large golden scissors, officials at the Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber cut the red ribbon on a new $5 million cardiac catheterization lab Thursday.

The lab will allow doctors to take detailed images of a patient’s heart with equipment that officials described as state-of-the-art.

Hospital CEO Tom Kurtz said the new lab wasn’t cheap, but it will be the best in the state when it starts accepting patients on Aug. 20.

“Five million dollars is a huge investment, but we wouldn’t have made it if we didn’t think it would grow,” he said.

Nearly 30 patients are already scheduled to use the new lab, which took two years to build, according to Kurtz.

“I think there’s a pent up demand in this community to use the services here at Windber hospital,” he said. “We’ve seen it with orthopedics, we’ve seen it with physical therapy and we’ve seen it with our general surgeons.

“I would put our clinicians at this hospital up against any clinicians in the state –– not just in the area, but in the state.”

Other local hospitals, such as Somerset Hospital and Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, also have cardiac catheterization labs, with Somerset expanding theirs last year.

But Windber catheterization lab manager Shannon Vitovich said that time spent traveling to a more distant hospital can lead to heart muscle damage.

“Here they can be seen within five minutes of walking into the emergency room,” she said.

Kurtz added that he sees the new lab as a turning point for the hospital and foresees new services will be added in the future.

“This isn’t going to be the end,” he said. “We will never ever compromise patients for profit.”

“I think it embodies what Windber has always stood for –– its perseverance,” he said. “We should’ve been dead and gone 20 years ago, but you know what they did? They created the genetic center. Who does that? We’ve overcome that and we put in a state-of-the-art breast care center.”

Windber Borough Council President Mike Bryan said that he is excited to see the Windber hospital growing.

“It’s definitely an asset to the community,” he said. “We wish them success as they move forward.”

He added that he appreciates that the hospital is investing in a local lab instead of moving investments out of the area like a network hospital might.

“I’m excited this is happening,” he said.

“I’m optimistic for the community and the patients.”

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