Life-saving benefits of an on-site cath lab

Alejandro Bonet, heart patient, North Shore Medical Center

Our-Stories-Alejandro-BonetWhen a sleep study morphed into a cardiac crisis, Alejandro Bonet, 49, was thankful to be at North Shore Medical Center, which has an on-site specialized cardiac catheterization lab, or cath lab.

“I had come in for a sleep test. I got up not feeling well and told the sleep study tech that I probably just had gas and to let me sit a while,” explains Bonet. “But then I had cold sweats, and the pain became very intense.”

A hospital staff member decided Bonet should undergo an EKG in the ER to make sure his pain wasn’t something more serious.

When the EKG revealed he was having a massive heart attack, a team of cardiac specialists were called in, and Alejandro was rushed to the cath lab. 

“The EKG helped us identify that he was having what we call an ST-elevation myocardial infarction,” said Dr. Louis Carnendran, an interventional cardiologist who treated Alejandro and has been practicing medicine for more than 20 years. “Because time is muscle, we had to open the heart within 90 minutes, which we did, using a stent.”

“During treatment in the cath lab, all of a sudden I started to feel better,” says Alejandro.

Benefits of an on-site cath lab

North Shore Medical Center’s commitment to quality patient care has been demonstrated through consistent upgrades and new programs to best serve the community. The newly installed cath lab allows patients in a cardiac crisis to be treated much more quickly and effectively.

“Two years ago, a heart patient would have had to be transported to a cath lab from here, which takes at least 30 minutes—the same amount of time it took us to open his artery on-site,” notes Dr. Carnendran.

“I felt very lucky to be here when it happened. If I hadn’t, it might have been a totally different story,” says Bonet.

Dr. Carnendran credits the forward-thinking hospital administration for recognizing a need in the community and investing resources in meeting that need.

"Heart attacks don’t discriminate. A lot of people in our community would come in with heart attacks, and we would have to send them to other hospitals, which delayed treatment,” he says. “The standard of cardiac care means the sooner the better. So our CEO Manny Linares made it his mission to upgrade the hospital with the cath lab angioplasty. It’s a blessing to the community we serve.” 

The North Shore difference

North Shore’s administration has proven to be a driving force in the hospital’s success. After 15 years of working in all kinds of hospital systems, Dr. Carnendran notes that North Shore’s administration stands apart for its caring, compassionate approach.

“Friendliness is very important in a hospital. If an administration is rigid, the supporting staff members aren’t friendly. If the administration and support staff aren’t friendly, the doctors will get discouraged and won’t want to work there. And obviously doctors are crucial to the operation,” says Dr. Carnendran. “Here, we have great, friendly people under Manny’s leadership. The support staff is helpful to the doctors. If we need something that’s important to patient health, they secure it for us. That’s part of good quality patient care. Apart from the doctors and the gadgets, you need the support system of the administration.”

Bonet attests to that same friendliness filtering down through the ranks to the people who treated him hands-on.

“They were all very nice, and communicated well the entire time. They’d say, ‘Look, we’re going to do this for you now, we’re going to put patches on you now, take this pill, here’s how to take it,’ etc. Everything went so fast, but I was comfortable and at ease, despite the circumstances of my situation,” he says.

While Bonet didn’t come to North Shore intending to be a heart patient, he certainly left as one. And what’s remarkable to Dr. Carnendran is that he came back with an appreciation card.

“He didn’t know or remember where the cath lab was, so he was a little lost when I found him. I thought the card was very nice,” says Dr. Carnendran. “In my experience, patients appreciate you, then they leave, then they get boggled down with life’s stress, and they don’t remember. But Mr. Bonet is one of the ones who remembered.”