Overlake Hospital’s new operating rooms allow for cutting-edge heart procedures

Spacious rooms allow for more equipment, innovation and collaboration.

Overlake Hospital unveiled two new operating rooms (ORs) for heart and vascular procedures at its Bellevue cardiology clinic on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

The new ORs, at more than 1,000 square feet each, are part of Overlake’s $250 million, six-year campus expansion plan known as Project FutureCare, approved by the Overlake Medical Center Board of Trustees back in 2017. The rooms will be operational in early September.

“The room sizes of existing ORs, which were built many years ago, really aren’t conducive to all the advances in technology and equipment,” Overlake COO Tom DeBord said. “The new rooms are going to be significantly bigger, to the tune of 65-percent bigger than our existing primary heart room.”

The first OR will be a conventional cardiac surgery room designated for more traditional open heart procedures like coronary bypass surgery, valve replacement and aneurysm repairs. Its spaciousness, however, will allow for the installation of new medical imaging and monitoring equipment to be used by larger teams of multidisciplinary heart specialists.

DeBord said surgeons and other staff will be able to reference pre-surgery screenings alongside real-time images on monitors that can display as many as 15 different things at once.

“Overlake is going to have the most modern, up-to-date technology that’s available on the market, and so we’re really excited about that,” DeBord said.

Dr. Ronnier Aviles, program director and section chief for Overlake’s cardiovascular services, said the OR suite will be a space where cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons and interventional cardiologists will all be working, offering the entire spectrum of therapies to patients.

That spectrum is widening, Aviles said, as more alternatives combining techniques from open-chest procedures and minimally invasive catheter-based procedures are being investigated and brought to market.

The second OR will be what’s known as a hybrid OR.

There, minimally invasive surgeries like transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) will be the focus, but the room also will include traditional cardiac surgical equipment so as to broaden the options available to heart teams during operations.

“[The hybrid OR] is a space that allows for the continued innovation of these therapies,” Aviles said.

TAVR procedures themselves are not brand new. In fact, Overlake expects to reach the milestone of 500 successful TAVR operations later this year. But according to Aviles, it’s the implications of a procedure like TAVR that has doctors and patients alike enthused.

“[TAVR] is a combination of cardiac surgical techniques with catheter-based techniques in a space that requires both surgical equipment and also catheter-based equipment, like fluoroscopy,” Aviles said. “It is the perfect procedure to usher in a new field, and what that has created is an explosion of innovation, not just in this hybrid space, but in regular cardiac surgery as well.”

The goal, Aviles said, is to be able to look at a wide array of therapies and tailor a plan to best meet the needs of the patient. He cautioned that simply because advanced technology has made possible a certain procedure, it doesn’t mean that procedure fits every patient’s needs.

At a recent ribbon cutting ceremony for the OR suite, program director for cardiothoracic surgery Dr. David Nelson emphasized Overlake’s inclusive process of designing the rooms; instead of a “top-down” approach, Nelson said the input of nurses and technicians — staff who will be using the rooms every day — were taken into account.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom DeBord’s title was corrected after the story went to press.

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