New cardiac facility planned in Richland Township

Well-known Johnstown cardiologist Dr. Samir Hadeed is teaming with the Windber hospital to expand options for area patients in Richland. Site work started this week on a 30,000-square-foot medical facility at the intersection of Theatre Drive and Eisenhower Boulevard. A formal groundbreaking will be held in the next few weeks, Hadeed said.

The ground floor will become Hadeed’s Johnstown Heart and Vascular Center, with a wide-ranging outpatient cardiology program and additional services. The Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber will lease the second floor, with plans for physician offices and outpatient services.

“When you look at the combined services between the first and second floors, that building is going to provide patients with a good medical facility and a full range of medical services in one outpatient setting,” Hadeed said at his 1027 Broad St. office in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

Hadeed also is helping to coordinate the Windber hospital’s new cardiac catheterization program, which is expected to open this fall at the hospital’s main campus, 600 Somerset Ave., Windber President and CEO Tom Kurtz said.

The center will initially open as a diagnostic cath lab, testing for blockages and restrictions in blood vessels feeding the heart muscle.

When the diagnostic lab is up and running in the fall, state inspectors will review its program structure, safety and technology before issuing a license as an interventional cath lab, Kurtz said. An interventional program includes placement of stents, or small tubes, into blocked blood vessels after they have been opened with angioplasty.

Angioplasty involves inflating tiny balloon-like devices inside veins or arteries to improve blood flow.

“Studies have shown that the effectiveness and safety of these programs without associated heart surgery programs are as good as the centers that do have them,” Kurtz said.

Somerset Hospital, for instance, has operated a stand-alone cardiac cath lab since 2002.

Windber has named Shannon Vitovich as cardiac catheterization lab manager for the new facility that is planned to open this fall.

Vitovich will coordinate the development of the cardiac catheterization lab, policies and procedures, staff education, and overall function of the lab, the hospital announced

A registered nurse, Vitovich is a John-town native and graduate of Edinboro University. She has 16 years experience working in a cardiac cath lab.

“We are very excited and confident that we have secured the right talent for success,” Windber Director of Nursing and Quality Michelle Hamula said. “The Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber is proud to be bringing this necessary service to the community.”

Windber has hired an outside consultant and will work with Hadeed and other cardiologists in the community to develop a quality program, Kurtz said.

UPMC Altoona has agreed to collaborate and serve as the backup cardiac surgery program for Windber, Kurtz said.

That doesn’t mean Windber patients will be required to use Altoona heart surgeons, he stressed. “Patients have a choice,” he said. “Even if it’s an emergency, they can request Conemaugh (Memorial Medical Center).”

The new Richland center will house primary-care physician offices, along with lab and imaging services. Physical therapy may also be offered, Kurtz said. “A great deal of our patients come from the Richland area,” Kurtz said. “We will be offering some of the things that would be more convenient closer to their homes.” The outpatient expansion is not part of any plan to decentralize Windber hospital, Kurtz said.

In fact, additional services at the Windber central campus are in the works, he said.

By Randy Griffith (