Travelling out of the region for heart procedures could become a thing of the past with the region’s first angioplasty (stent) procedure taking place this week, heralding a game-changer in access to heart treatment in the region.
Over 200 local heart patients a year could be spared a trip to Wellington or Hamilton for pacemaker and stent procedures with the opening of a private cardiovascular clinic led by Doctors Bob Gerber and Colin Hutchison.
“Our aim is to improve the cardiovascular health of our communities through timely access to world class cardiovascular care in Hawke’s Bay.
“Until now patients have needed to travel to Wellington and Hamilton for cardiology procedures such as pacemakers and stents. This is a major milestone for the region that will ultimately save lives.
G&H’s cath lab is based on the Kaweka Hospital campus on Canning Road, and is equipped with the region’s first high performance x-ray technology to help quickly diagnose and treat heart problems.
Angiograms (taking images of the arteries), an interventional cardiology programme (including ballooning and stenting of arteries), implantable devices (e.g. pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators – ICDs) and other cardiology procedures will all be provided at the facility.
Already six pacemaker procedures have been successfully undertaken in the main Kaweka Hospital surgical facilities. These will now be undertaken at the new facility.
80 year old Tricia Hirsch was Dr Gerber’s first pacemaker patient.
Tricia says she was in a “do or die” situation, requiring major bowel surgery which was at risk of not going ahead due to a very low heart rate.
“I was ready for the bowel surgery but I was told that I couldn’t undergo this due to issues with my heart. I was struggling with getting my breath and my heart was just 40 beats a minute.”
“The pacemaker is now set at 60 beats a minute and I was back walking within a few days. It is amazing.
Tricia has now also had the bowel surgery and says as a “very young 80 year-old” she is looking forward to get back playing lawn bowls this summer.
Dr Hutchison said the modern clinic shared with TRG Imaging is a temporary solution to meet current needs while awaiting the completion of second stage of Kaweka Hospital, which is set to open in mid 2025.
Dr Gerber leads a dedicated team of healthcare professionals driven by a shared commitment to delivering exceptional care and improving the well-being of our patients.
Dr Gerber is an expert in the field of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) guided stent implantation and is also trained in implanting pacemakers and implantable cardio-defibrillators (ICDs) as well as coronary stents.
He graduated from Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ Medical School which is part of King’s College London in 2000 has expertise in hypertension and heart failure as well as heart rhythm disturbances and dyslipidaemia.
Dr Gerber is supported by a specialist team including fellow cardiologists, nurses, a nurse practitioner, cardiac sonographers, cardiac technicians and operational manager Laura Ledger.
“We know that the sooner heart procedures are done, the better it is for you getting back on your feet and back enjoying life.
“The benefits of having the procedure closer to home and family will also have a positive impact on recovery,” Dr Gerber said.
Dr Hutchison sees the new facility as a great opportunity to support the care of all cardiac patients in the region, reducing the need for patients to wait for transfer to regional centres.