Baptist Health’s new Hybrid OR offers heart patients peace of mind

Baptist Health’s new Hybrid OR offers heart patients peace of mind
Spencer White, Baptist Heart Center tech and Robin Davison, manager of Patient Care in the new hybrid operating room at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville

A visit from award-winning Fox Sports reporter Jennifer Hale seemed like the perfect time for Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville to publicly unveil the new Hybrid Operating Room in its Heart Center.

Having survived a diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy at age 38 without a heart transplant, Hale was the guest speaker during Baptist’s Sisisky-Kleppinger Endowed Annual Lecture for Women’s Health April 10. 

Prior to the lecture, which was held at WJCT, Hale was invited to a special tour of the Baptist Heart Center’s Hybrid Operating Room, one of the few in the region. The tour was conducted by Dr. Ruby Satpathy, FACC, FSCAI, a top cardiologist in its Structural Heart Program, and Dr. Pamela Rama, chief of staff and medical director of Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation at Baptist Medical Center Beaches.

The Hybrid OR is an advanced surgical room where Baptist cardiologists perform high-risk heart surgeries with unique, minimally invasive techniques. Unlike a traditional surgical operating room, a Hybrid OR is equipped with the technology, tools and space to accommodate a full medical team in the event a patient’s condition changes during minimally invasive surgery requiring staff to pivot to open-heart surgery.

“These days we can replace heart valves without doing open heart surgery, and the beauty of having a Hybrid OR team and Hybrid Lab is if something happens, we can completely transform it into an OR,” said Rama. “If we run into trouble, and we need to open up a heart, we can do it immediately without having to transfer the patient and get them into another operating room. Everyone is there, and everyone comes to the patient.”

It only takes two minutes and 30 seconds to move the camera out of the way in order to convert the Hybrid OR into a full-blown operating room, Satpathy said. In the last 10 years that she has been performing non-invasive procedures, she has never run into an emergency requiring the patient to be moved but feels more secure knowing she can conduct an open-heart operation quickly if the need occurs, she said. Since she is using real-time image guidance with technology that provides rich 3D detail, the quality of the image in the Hybrid OR is better, making it safer and quicker to do the procedures. “Hopefully we will never need it, but it’s nice to have it,” Satpathy said.

Catherine Graham, vice president of Business Innovation and Development, with Ron Roberts, director, Cardiovascular Service Line, with Dr. Ruby Satpathy, Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville President Michael Mayo, Jennifer Hale, Fox Sports reporter, and Dr. Pamela Rama
Catherine Graham, vice president of Business Innovation and Development, with Ron Roberts, director, Cardiovascular Service Line, with Dr. Ruby Satpathy, Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville President Michael Mayo, Jennifer Hale, Fox Sports reporter, and Dr. Pamela Rama

Shocking diagnosis

In 2016, Hale was preparing for her sixth season as an NFL and NBA reporter for Fox Sports when she noticed she was consistently feeling fatigued and short of breath. “Right before the diagnosis, my feet, ankles, and legs started swelling, and that’s when I thought it must be something other than just working too hard,” she said.

An echocardiogram revealed that her heart was only pumping at 16% capacity, signaling that she had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged or dilated and can’t effectively pump blood out of the heart.

“I was shocked. I’d worked an NFL game the day before where I normally walk about five miles – both sidelines. I figured, it can’t be that bad if I was able to do that, but yes, it was,” she said.

Although her father and grandfather had both suffered fatal heart attacks before the age of 50, Hale thought heart disease was something that only affected the men in her family. “Cardiomyopathy had never affected the women in my family, only the men,” she said. “I had always worried about my brother’s heart health, but I never thought twice about my own.”

With the diagnosis, she was told there was a small chance medication might help but that she still needed to be immediately put on the heart transplant list. “It took me a week to accept it. It was mind blowing,” she said. “The mental battle to get through something like this is just as big a component as the physical one.”

After her diagnosis, Hale was referred to a cardiologist in New Orleans who specializes in advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology. She was told to cut back on her work schedule – her “passion” – and issued a personal defibrillator known as a LifeVest®, that continuously monitored her heart’s activity. She was also put on a medication to reduce the size of her enlarged heart and, fortunately, it worked. After two and a half years, her heart is now pumping at 50%, the low end of normal, and she was taken off the heart transplant list in February 2018.

According to Rama, women tend to think heart disease won’t happen to them, so they often ignore their symptoms. “Most of the time, they seek medical attention later when the condition is far more advanced,” she said.

Hale said if she could send other women one message it would be this: “I hope they are smarter than I was and will write down their family history. I had this in my family, and I should have known, but I thought it was always the males and never the females,” she said. “I don’t eat red meat. I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs. A heart problem never crossed my mind. If I had caught this when I started having symptoms, maybe it would have taken me two and a half years to heal. Maybe it would only have taken a couple of months and the peace of mind that would have given me would have been huge.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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