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State-of-the-art catheterization lab unveiled on Fort Gordon

Maj. Collin Fischer could easily picture the 70-inch monitor in his living room, but he was much more excited to see how it helps local servicemembers and area veterans address chronic problems at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

The screen, three times larger than health care standards require, is part of the newly upgraded Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory unveiled Wednesday at the Fort Gordon, Ga., hospital.

With it, the system can shorten procedure times and potentially reduce hospital stays by exposing patients to less radiation and helping physicians see the stents they're inserting into arteries in higher resolution.

"In an era where everything is electronic and changing, we're on the cutting edge," Fischer said at a ribbon cutting ceremony. "The real winner is the patient."

Fischer said the process to update the hospital's catheterization lab began in 2007, when its director, Dr. Robert Jechke started making plans for a state-of-the-art center that let his staff meet its increasing number of vascular and coronary cases.

Jechke's proposal later evolved into a plan for a two-lab facility that helps cardiologists better diagnose and treat advanced cardiovascular disease, and allows his team to provide comprehensive and up to date heart care.

"The new lab is truly a testament for what a military-based hospital can achieve when it commits to delivering the highest-quality patient care," Jeschke said of the lab in a news release, arguing that it rivals those in the civilian sector.

Fischer said renovations did not come without challenges.

While the upgrades were being installed, the lab temporarily had to move into a semitrailer parked outside the emergency room for six months.

"It was very much a team effort," he said. "Every member of the cardiology department here made sacrifices."

Fischer credited Anne Evans, the head cath lab nurse, for ensuring patient safety standards were maintained throughout the process.

Evans said the relocation was worth it.

"This is just the top of the cake," she said of the new lab. "It will provide excellent nursing care to all of our patient population."

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