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New Augusta Health Cardiovascular Center Opens Soon - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

New Augusta Health Cardiovascular Center Opens Soon

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Augusta Health has unveiled a new weapon in the fight against heart attacks and strokes. Its $32 million cardiovascular center opens to patients in just a few weeks.

It's been 17 months since Augusta Health broke ground on the heart and vascular center. The goal has been to bring all of those services within arm's reach, rather than scattered throughout the hospital complex, but doctors say the move is about far more than just convenience.

Patients who arrive at the long-awaited cardiovascular center will find a pair of nuclear stress-testing machines and two cutting-edge heart catheterization labs.

Doctors say the new equipment is critical for a hospital that treated 99 heart attack patients last year.

"Probably three or four times, we had more than one heart attack at a time in the hospital. And we only had one cath lab to handle them. So we had to prioritize – take care of one, then take care of the other," said Dr. Raj Pillai, an Augusta Health cardiologist.

For taking care of patients after a heart attack, there is also a new, much larger cardiac-rehab center. The building is also home to EKG testing, diabetes education and nutrition counseling, as well as offices for all cardiovascular staff. That means all services are just steps away.

"They can just send them across the hall, and they can get the stress test done, they can get the cath done, so there's not a lot of shuffling back and forth," said Dr. Mark Masonheimer.

Construction on the 67,000-square-foot facility is about 95 percent complete. The top floor is set aside as "shelled space," an empty canvas for future expansion.

Augusta Health believes that growth will come for the cardiovascular program that's just three years old and poised to compete for the best doctors and nurses.

"Once you have an established program that's up and running in a new building, recruitment is a lot easier," Pillai said.

Its first patients will be treated on March 25, but the new cardiovascular center will host a "heart health fair" next Wednesday. Visitors will be able to get several types of free screenings, and take their own tour of the facility.

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