Eisenhower Health stays on the cutting edge of new medical technologies.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY EISENHOWER HEALTH
Consumers line up for the latest versions of computers, smart phones, and other devices that deliver information and entertainment. Business leaders know they need to keep up with technology to remain competitive. For a medical institution impacting — indeed, saving — the lives of countless people, investing in state-of-the-art equipment and techniques surpasses desire and advantage. It reaches the realm of responsibility.
Eisenhower Health plans a $50 million expansion of its cardiology capacity and flexibility to meet the growing number of candidates with conditions that can be treated through minimally invasive procedures, combined with the acquisition of the latest technologies.
As designed, the 25,000-square-foot pavilion encompasses seven rooms, including hybrid suites capable of becoming operating rooms. Additionally, the project involves equipment upgrades and repurposing two labs to handle EKG and other screening tests. It has been 26 years since Eisenhower opened those labs, which were designed for angiograms and now are used for a range of catheter-based procedures.
“We have outgrown that space,” says Khoi Le, M.D. “There is a different set of cardiac solutions. We need a different kind of cath lab that can function as a hybrid with more space to address problems not just related to arteries.”
Le clarifies why the price tag for the cardiac expansion runs well into eight figures.
“The rooms you are constructing have to meet high standards for radiation safety and sterility. When you create an operating room, you’re not just putting an operating table in there and special outlets for lighting. You have to control air pressure and which way the air flows,” he explains. “A cath lab has to meet the same standards as those of an operating room and accommodate specialized imaging equipment.
“There’s a lot of computer support that goes into the imaging equipment,” he adds. “And that equipment has to meet safety standards for operators who work in the room.”
To his latter point, Le asserts that, while interventional cardiac procedures “are very safe and can be done really well,” there are “a lot of potential occupational hazards in a cath lab.” Radiation exposure from X-ray systems pose a threat to people who work with or near them on a day-to-day basis. Studies reveal higher rates among interventional cardiologists for cataracts, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer (particularly in the side of the brain closest to the equipment). Additionally, heavy lead aprons that protect the body from radiation lead to spine, neck, and shoulder problems.
Today’s marketplace offers lower-dose radiation machines (permitting the use of lighter lead shielding), radiation deflection devices, and radiation-free MRI technology. Systems with more robotics and computer controls reduce radiation exposure.
Le points out that Eisenhower needs state-of-the-art imaging equipment not only for patients, but also to extend the careers of its current staff of doctors, technicians, and nurses and to recruit the next generation of physicians and other healthcare workers.
Barry Hackshaw, M.C., anticipates the cardiac pavilion will take two years to build. Eisenhower is in the midst of a $200 million fundraising campaign for this and other capital improvements. Hackshaw notes that insurance benefits from Medicare and private insurance just cover services provided. Any new buildings or new technologies rely on donations from individuals and their foundations.
“The people of this community have been incredible supporters, and their philanthropy is critical for us to be able to carry out these programs,” he asserts. “We have one room in which we can perform up-to-date procedures. That is not adequate for what this valley requires. In the last three years, the volume of patients at Eisenhower Desert Cardiology Center has increased 30 percent.”
Le distills the reason Eisenhower Health continues to reach for the sky: “Just as the heart is fundamental to the health of the whole body, good cardiac care is fundamental to the health of the community and to what a hospital is able to do and the hospital’s reputation. It has a halo effect on everything the hospital does.”
Rancho Mirage Mayor
A Close Relationship
Years ago, Rancho Mirage Mayor Dana Hobart suggested his city market itself as “Heart of the Palm Springs Valley” based on its midpoint location between the west and east ends of desert resort cities. If you Google that phrase these days, the city’s whereisranchomirage.com site tops the list. Right under that heart-referenced search, you’ll find a link to Eisenhower Desert Cardiology Center’s website.
The virtual-space proximity is especially fitting given the city’s 2020 donation of $2.5 million to Eisenhower Health’s fundraising campaign to expand its cardiac-care capabilities. Over the past 15 years, Rancho Mirage has contributed more than $8 million to the nonprofit institution within its geographical boundaries.
“We can’t think of anything more worthy of city funds,” Hobart says on behalf of the city council. “Rancho Mirage is a community with an average age higher than most. We have a significant number of people who go to the emergency room for immediate care. And as anyone would say or know, the closer you are to a hospital, the greater likelihood your problem will be resolved.”
The mayor immediately follows his assertion with an example about someone he knew arriving at Eisenhower after 11 p.m. “They called two physicians, one who had gone to bed,” Hobart relates. “They determined the fellow required immediate surgery and provided the medical attention he needed to save his life. That drama occurs from time to time.
“The city council has considered philanthropy to require active and serious contributions from the city,” he adds. “We don’t want to sit back and watch everybody else contribute. So we have participated in a very substantial way to the economic foundation that Eisenhower needs.”
The mayor acknowledges that his constituency loves Eisenhower more than politicians, but he doesn’t seem to mind. After all, municipal governments fix potholes. Medical institutions fix human bodies.