Cardiovascular surgeons and other members of the Christus Good Shepherd Health System gathered Thursday to celebrate the completion and opening of the $8.5 million cardiovascular care center in Longview.

Next to Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center, the Christus Good Shepherd Heart and Vascular Institute will open to patients Monday. Construction of the heart center began in January.

Chief of Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology Dr. Chris McClish said the facility makes for a more efficient visit for patients as well as for doctors, as they’ll all be under one roof, allowing them to collaborate closer to optimize patient outcomes .

“It’s really a big step for the services and the quality of services that we’re going to be able to offer here in Longview,” McClish said. “(Coronary heart disease) is … in a way, the biggest threat to the people in our community, so any amount of resources needs to take that into account when you consider where to spend money in the health care system.”

He added that goals of the new facility are less travel for patients, more convenient access to comprehensive cardiovascular care and same day diagnosis and treatment.

The 21,500-square-foot facility combines cardiology, electrophysiology and cardiovascular surgery into a medically integrated clinic.

The facility will house all cardiothoracic surgeons, four interventional cardiologists, one non interventional cardiologist, an electrophysiologist and several cardiology nurse practitioners, according to Christus. Multiple cardiology and physician offices are in the building, along with procedural rooms for outpatient procedures. Most of the equipment in the facility is new.

Patients will be able to go into the facility for outpatient procedures, such as venous ablations and loop recorders, have them done in the office and go home the same day, according to Christus. This allows patients to avoid a hospital stay.

A noninvasive cardiology area is included in the facility, which offers three stress test rooms, two echocardiography rooms and a nuclear imaging room, according to Christus.

“It’s unique because if we see something that’s alarming and that makes us nervous, because we have our doctors so close, we can bring them over here immediately and lay eyes on it to see if there’s anything we need to do further or come back at a different time,” said Kent Andries, director of cardiology for Christus Good Shepherd Health System.

Services also will include a minimally invasive vein clinic, nuclear imaging, cardiac rehabilitation, stress testing, EKG and echocardiography, heart health and device education and minor procedure rooms, along with an entire cardiac rehabilitation area, according to Christus.

The cardiac rehab will be used to increase the patient’s understanding of conditions and treatments, while also helping patients make lifestyle changes to decrease chances of heart disease, according to Christus.

Andries said patients will still be cared for at Good Shepherd, but the goal is to shift a majority of the care to the Heart and Vascular Institute.

At the hospital, Christus Good Shepherd plans to continue expanding its cardiology services from three labs to five labs for a higher procedure volume.

“In cardiology, structural heart, different types of ablations, things like that, the community has a great need, so we’re just trying to expand to meet that need,” Andries said.

Gregg County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Tim Bryan had a heart attack in February on his 49th birthday. He said during Thursday’s ceremony that he will continue cardiac rehab at the new facility.

Bryan was in Gladewater when he experienced his heart attack, and he was transported to Christus Good Shepherd, where he was shocked multiple times to save his life.

Bryan said within an hour of his heart attack, he was on the table in the catherization lab with proper blood flow because of the staff at Christus Good Shepherd.

“I’m walking proof every day that the system works and when all the pieces fit together, it’s a great thing,” Bryan said. “I think this is a great gift for Longview. Not only are we going to have more beds, we’re going to have better care.”

Todd Hancock, chief executive officer of Christus Good Shepherd Health System, said as Christus nears its five-year anniversary of acquiring Good Shepherd, he reminisces on the first commitments discussed.

“One of our first commitments was the expansion and development of our service lines. We don’t have a more important service line than our cardiovascular service line. Today is an accumulation of those promises and that commitment by Christus and by us to this community,” Hancock said. “I’m exceedingly proud of what we’ve been able to do here and how it will serve patients for years to come.”

The Christus Good Shepherd project is the first of two new heart care facilities in Longview expected to open this year.

Longview Regional Medical Center has started a $4.4 million project to expand and renovate its cardiac care service areas. That project will include adding an electrophysiology lab and renovations to the entry and public spaces of the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute and Regional Clinics Cardiology, which is inside the hospital’s 709 Medical Park Plaza building.

Work began and May, and Regional officials said at the time that the facility should be completed in about six months.

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