EP lab

Pauley Reveals Latest EP Lab

After nearly seven years in the making, the new VCU Health Pauley Heart Center interventional cardiology suite dazzles with eight bright, spacious rooms and state-of-the-art technologies, including fully integrated GE imaging systems.

“We worked very hard to make the rooms as functional and efficient as possible. We’ve tried to include everything the doctors and staff need to make the rooms work well,” said Ruth Williams, nurse manager of the Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Labs and Cardiovascular Progressive Care Unit.

“These rooms have advanced technologies that all communicate with each other. All rooms were equipped with booms that contain all cables to keep the rooms less cluttered, cleaner and safer for staff with no trip hazards,” said Williams.

Take EP2, the final ,room in the suite, which was completed in July. An x-ray table in the middle of the room is surrounded by the latest in technologies—from a GE Innova 620, with a C-shaped arm for imaging, to the multiscreen flat monitors and the three Stryker booms that suspend from the ceiling, containing outlets for medical gases, electrical outlets, and IT integration for all equipment.

“These rooms have advanced technologies that all communicate with each other. All rooms were equipped with booms that contain all cables to keep the rooms less cluttered, cleaner, and safer for staff with no trip hazards,” said Williams. “Additionally, each room is equipped with CleanSuite ceiling technology developed by Huntair. This is a custom, laminar air delivery system that continuously filters air in the procedure rooms, reducing airborne contaminants.”

Many of the components in the room, such as the lighting, attach to the Huntair ceiling grid. Large flat-screen monitors angle wherever needed throughout the room, with additional screens in the procedure room and control room to optimize visualization for all team members.

“EP has a lot of very complex equipment. We were able to integrate all of that equipment so that the staff can see any modality, at any place in the room,” she said. “Everybody can see what everybody else is doing and keep a closer eye on the patient.” Additionally, “radiation exposure to our patients, as well as doctors and staff, has decreased.”

The four rooms that make up the EP surgical suite are connected by a hallway to the four new cardiac catheterization labs, which include a hybrid operating room. Near the EP labs, a conference room that will connect audiovisually to the procedure rooms is under construction. It will support the increasing number of clinical staff who want to watch the many innovative procedures taking place at the Pauley Heart Center.

An estimated 1,900 EP and 3,800 Cardiac Cath Lab procedures will take place at VCU this year. The labs will help VCU meet growing patient demand, including an increasing number of complex, high-risk cases.

“We are doing a lot more structural heart procedures that close abnormal openings in the heart or correct valve problems. In EP, we are performing left atrial appendage closures. We were doing those before the construction, but it’s much, much easier in these new rooms,” said Williams.

The process began in 2012 when the Pauley Heart team closely reviewed and meticulously tweaked the plans and helped select the equipment. “I think the biggest challenge has been the extreme number of details…When you’re trying to conceptualize new construction, you really have to put yourself into that room in your mind and think, `What do I need? What do I need where?’”

A daily challenge was keeping the departments up and running safely, she said. “We have a very vulnerable population, especially with our cardiac transplant patients. Everything has to be very tightly sealed in the construction areas, so we were constantly working with our epidemiology colleagues and assuring all quality and safety metrics were being met.

All the hard work has paid off. The custom design and equipment wows visitors, including those from other hospitals.

“I’ve even had people ask to see our blueprints,” Williams said with a laugh. “I think everybody has been really impressed.”