Category: Sonoma County Cardiologist

The Beat Goes On

The Beat Goes OnTo look at Clarence “Ed” Logan, you’d have a hard time believing the man is 80 years old, much less that he recently went through valve replacement surgery. The spry Fairfield resident loves to spend time with his bride of 55 years, Maureen, and take walks with his spunky Jack Russell terriers, Tugg and Buddy.

But it was on one of those walks when he realized something was not quite right. Out of the blue, he was having a hard time breathing.Ed, who retired from the Air Force and then from the City of Fairfield after 20 years, has always been active, cutting wood, doing chores, taking long walks. He’d had a heart attack when he was 51, and so he knew what he had to do to take care of himself.

With a family history of heart issues, he stayed in contact with his cardiologist, who was keeping a watchful eye on his aortic valve. Suddenly, he was a good candidate for a valve replacement.

No longer do patients like Ed have to travel outside Solano County for such a procedure. NorthBay Healthcare opened its Heart & Vascular Program in April 2009. At the time, valves weren’t really part of the plan. “We were anticipating bypasses, mainly,” explains Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Jamie Wheelahan. But only a few months later, valve surgery became a reality at NorthBay, and has been ever since.

“We realized rather quickly that we had everything we needed to do valve surgery,” says Ed’s surgeon, Ramzi Deeik, M.D., director of Cardiac Surgery at NorthBay Medical Center. “Our operating room is state-of-the-art and not short in any way of the latest and greatest technology. That allows complicated surgeries such as valve replacement to go smoothly.”

Still, the procedure is no walk in the park. In order to replace or repair a valve, the heart has to be completely stopped.

The Medtronic Performer, a state-of-the-art heart and lung machine, pumps blood through the body and is maintained by a top-notch perfusion team, says Dr. Deeik. The equipment is completely computerized and follows the values of patient temperatures, electrolytes and even features bioactive coating on its tubes, which prevents clotting. “That means we can use less blood thinner during the surgery.”

For many patients, blood thinner is part of their reality after valve surgery. That is, if they decide to have a mechanical valve. After consulting with Dr. Deeik, it was determined that Ed would be given a tissue, or porcine, valve so he won’t have to be on the blood thinner Coumadin the rest of his life. “There’s less stress. They don’t have to worry about using too much or too little. And a tissue valve, especially in an older person, can last up to 25 years,” says Dr. Deeik.

Ed’s surgery took a little over two hours. “We are very expeditious,” recalls Dr. Deeik. “We don’t want to keep the heart arrested for a long period of time. The national average is 90 minutes, but mine is usually less than an hour.”

Dr. Deeik says he doesn’t hesitate to replace the valve of a patient who is in their 80s or even 90s.

“Look at the alternative,” he says. “They have a tight valve that doesn’t allow blood to leave the heart, they’re not getting enough to the brain, their arms or legs; they feel tired and weak, their body is hungry for oxygen and blood. The heart is working overtime to squeeze blood out of a tiny hole.” When a heart works that hard—sometimes for years—it ultimately will start failing. Although the recovery process was a little rough, Ed’s feeling “really good now,” he says. He goes to NorthBay’s cardiac rehab program three times a week, and is back to walking his beloved dogs. They bicker at his feet over a new toy Maureen made using Ed’s hospital stockings and a couple of tennis balls.

“I can’t believe how much help I got from all the staff there, especially in the ICU,” Ed recalls. “Everybody was great, very compassionate.” Even after he was home, NorthBay Health at Home took some of the burden off, by installing a computer in their bedroom, checking on his vitals and staying in close contact with Ed and Maureen.

“It was really good help,” says Maureen, who confides that at one time she wanted to be a nurse. She got her wish, helping Ed navigate those first scary weeks. Now the couple is planning a trip to Hawaii to celebrate.

It’s just another success story for Dr. Deeik, hailed in the industry as “the Valve Surgeon,” because it has become his specialty. He frequently gets referrals from other hospitals in the region.

Surgical Team focuses on Heart of the Matter

Surgical Team Focuses on the Heart of the MatterNorthBay Medical Center’s unique situation and location will make it one of the most sought-after heart programs in Northern California, says Dr. Ramzi Deeik, director of Cardiac Surgery Clinical Outcomes at the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center. The cardiothoracic surgeon has been with the program since its planning stages.

It has taken two years, lots of planning and millions of dollars in equipment, training and recruiting, but today NorthBay Medical Center has a five-man surgical team ready to take on heart, vascular and thoracic cases in its new state-of-the-art surgical suite. Now patients can come to the Fairfield facility for everything from open heart surgery to valve repair.

“It’s been an honor to be involved in the initial stages of developing this heart program,” says Dr. Deeik. The planning committee began nearly three years ago, and was made up of physicians, administrators, experts in the field, nurse practitioners and leaders throughout NorthBay Healthcare. “It’s been a very unique experience,” says Dr. Deeik. “We have a very dedicated team of people here who are excited about what they’re doing.”

While the surgery team has had plenty of experience at other Northern California hospitals, that was not the case for others on the team. Before the first surgery could take place in Fairfield, NorthBay nurses had to go to other hospitals for hundreds of hours of training.

“The nursing staff’s new expertise was really on display when the first surgery was performed,” recalls Dr. Deeik. “The feelings we shared during that first operation back in April were incredible. The fact that we were able to help patients in their own community and make sure their family was close to home, well, patients do extremely well in the recovery process. It has been very uplifting.”

Cardiac Surgery Has Successful Start

Cardiac Surgery Has Successful StartWith 11 successful open heart surgeries to its credit between the April grand opening and the beginning of August, NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center is right on target to becoming Solano County’s premier center, according to Diana Sullivan, Ph.D., director of the cardiovascular service line.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve moved at dizzying speeds, building, creating, and implementing the Cardiovascular Operating Room, the Peripheral Vascular Lab, the Interventional Cardiology Lab, the Chest Pain Center, and Mended Hearts, a support group for patients,” said Sullivan.

During a review of the “First 10” surgeries in July, Dr. Ramzi Deeik reported that 90 percent of NorthBay’s procedures have used the so-called “beating heart surgery,” during which the surgeon repairs a heart while it continues to pump blood to the body.

This technique has no doubt contributed to successful outcomes, as patients who undergo beating heart surgeries tend to recover faster and with less stress to their bodies.

In California and throughout the nation, only 20 percent of patients are treated using the procedure.

In addition to nine off-pump surgeries, and one traditional coronary artery bypass surgery, NorthBay’s team also performed a valve replacement surgery.

“The project development is the culmination of the 20-year vision of Gary Passama, NorthBay Healthcare president/CEO with the supportive leadership of Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Richerson and unprecedented teamwork of the hospital management,” said Sullivan.

“There is a lot of excitement, and a nice thing that I see when I come to the hospital is how the nurses’ faces are all glowing, they are so proud to take care of heart patients,” said Dr. Deeik during a summer service line meeting.

NorthBay Medical Center has dedicated a room, located near the front lobby, for families and friends of heart and vascular patients. The room, formerly a meditation area, has been set up to be a private, comfortable suite where the family can watch television or rest while waiting for their loved one.