Heart services boost

Within four or five years, it is likely Latrobe Valley residents will be able to have all their heart treatment done at Latrobe Regional Hospital without having to travel to Melbourne, The Alfred hospital head’s of cardiac cathertisaton laboratories, Archer Broughton, says.

It comes after Gippsland’s first cardiac cathertisation laboratory, or ‘cath lab’, for cardiac surgery was finished at Latrobe Regional Hospital late last week.

Cath labs are used for lifesaving heart procedures, including stenting, angiography, the insertion of pacemakers and implantable defibrillators.

The cath lab will be run in partnership with The Alfred hospital.

“Initially for the first year, the cardiology procedures will be diagnostic and any cases that need to have intervention will be sent to The Alfred,” Dr Broughton said.

“As the team matures and the track record is good, more and more interventions will happen here. So in the end, very few cases will need to be transferred.

“They will be able to have all their treatment here within four or five years.”

Dr Broughton said specialist nurses had been chosen for the catheter team to work in the new facilities and two cardiologists were yet to be recruited.

“They will just be amazed when they come here and see this cath lab,” Dr Broughton said.

“Any hospital in Victoria will be jealous of a cath lab as fine as this one. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they see how fabulous this whole place is.”

State Health Minister Jill Hennessy toured the new state-of-the-art facilities on Thursday, which also features a 12-bed short stay unit, two 30-bed acute in-patient wards, two endoscopy rooms and new main entrance and a new emergency department, doubling the previous capacity.

“(The cath lab) will mean there will be less patients that need to travel to Melbourne for their treatment,” Ms Hennessy said.

“Unfortunately there is a high prevalence of heart disease in the region, so ensuring that we’ve got the best healthcare facilities to support local members of the community is a really important part of this redevelopment.”

“I also think that not disrupting people’s lives (is important). People like to be visited by their families, they like to be close to home, so there is a whole productivity, as well as family benefit that people are able to have more services close to home.”

Ms Hennessy said a health service with partnerships with hospitals like the Alfred would be an attractive thing for the workforce as well.

“It also means you can better attract particular specialties in parts of the workforce, which is sometimes a challenge in rural and regional Victoria,” she said.

“It enables health services to build up their confidence, to build up their specialisation and to build up their capability to be able to provide highly specialised services.”

The new cath lab is fully funded by state government and is expected to treat its first patients in December.