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24 hour Catheter Laboratory service begins

13 April, 2015

Around the clock care will be provided to Far Northern heart attack patients as the Cairns Hospital Cardiac Catheter Laboratory begins operating a 24-7 on-call service.

From today a specialist team of cardiologists as well as nursing and radiology staff will begin an on-call roster after hours Monday to Friday and on weekends.

In the event of an afterhours emergency, the on-call team will be notified and will travel to Cairns Hospital to provide emergency angiography and angioplasty.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Board Chair Bob Norman said the expanded service would be a major asset to the Far Northern community.

“Cairns is just the seventh hospital in Queensland to offer a 24-7 service which means that if anyone has a heart attack at any time of day or night they will be able to be cared for locally,” he said.

“As of today we have a fully operational 24-7 Cardiac Catheter Laboratory at Cairns Hospital which is something that the community should be extremely proud of.

“This has taken an extraordinary amount of work and investment from our Health Service and is a major step forward in the level of service we provide.”

The annual cost of the expanded service in its first year of operation is expected to be more than $2 million and that cost will rise in the coming years with an expected increase in procedures.

In 2012, the Cairns Hospital Cardiac Catheter Laboratory conducted 241 angioplasties, in 2013 that rose to 298 and there were 300 procedures performed last year as a five day a week service.

As part of the expansion of the service additional staff have been recruited including a third interventional cardiologist, Dr Ramakrishna ‘Ram’ Saireddy.

Dr Saireddy graduated medical school in India before moving to the United Kingdom to complete his specialist exams in internal medicine.

He completed his cardiology fellowship at Christchurch Hospital in 2012 before beginning his interventionist fellowship in Brisbane at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane in 2013.

Now a fully qualified interventional cardiologist Dr Saireddy said the Cairns community could not only look forward to better medical cover but also will have access to a range of more complex procedures.

For the first time in the Far North a balloon valvuloplasty was performed in March at Cairns Hospital’s Cardiac Catheter Laboratory under the supervision of Dr Saireddy.

“This is a procedure where a catheter with a balloon affixed to the end is inserted through an artery and threaded into the heart. Once the catheter reaches a narrowed valve the balloon is inflated and the narrowed valve is widened,” Dr Saireddy said.

“We now have the experience here in Cairns to be able to carry these procedures safely, and locally. Having three interventional cardiologists’ means the team has access to broader experience and techniques and we will all be able to learn and develop our skills base from each other.”

Cardiac Catheter Laboratory lead clinician Dr Greg Starmer said a two week trial of afterhours procedures had been successfully completed.

“The priority in establishing this service is that afterhours procedures can be performed safely and over the past couple of weeks we have shown that we are ready to go 24-7 which is really exciting,” he said.

Dr Starmer said in the three years he had been at the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory at Cairns Hospital he had seen a huge growth in services.

“I have seen the department grow to five days a week, from mid-2014 we began treating emergency patients five days a week and going 24-7 on-call is great news for the community,” he said.

Timeline of Cairns Hospital’s Cardiac Catheter Laboratory

2003 - Nov 2004 No cardiologist cover in Cairns, all patients referred to southern hospitals
23 Nov 2005 Cardiac Catheter Laboratory opens in old vascular lab two days a week, does not offer angioplasty. First angiogram performed.

Cath Lab begins offering angioplasty

27 Jul 2010 New Cardiac Catheter Laboratory opens in Block C, Cairns Hospital

Cardiac Catheter Laboratory moves to four days a week

Jun 2014 Health Service signs off on 24-7 on call service which begins the recruitment process for a third interventional cardiologist and other key staff
Oct 2014 Appointment of Dr Saireddy announced
Feb 2015 Dr Saireddy begins work at Cairns Hospital
Mar 2015 First balloon valvuloplasty procedure performed in the Far North
13 Apr 2015 Cardiac Catheter Laboratory launches 24-7 on call service

Last updated: 27 April 2015