When Matthew Topel, MD, was named chief of cardiology at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Decatur, his family gifted him the book The DeKalb Medical Story: From Berry Patch to Healthcare System, 1957-2009. It proved an invaluable resource for Dr. Topel, who, despite completing all his medical training at Emory, was new to the Decatur area.
Knowledge of the county’s rich medical history has given Dr. Topel the perspective he needs to bring the resources and backing of Emory to the Decatur community—an area of Georgia with a growing need for advanced heart care. Now, Dr. Topel and the heart and vascular team are building on Emory Decatur Hospital’s strong foundation to make transformative changes to the way heart care is delivered.
We sat down with Dr. Topel to learn more about advances in heart care at Emory Decatur Hospital and exciting plans for the future.
What are some of the heart care advancements made so far at Emory Decatur Hospital?
Less than a year ago, we celebrated the opening of a newly renovated cardiac catheterization lab on the hospital’s first floor. Cath labs are critical for many heart procedures, including implantation of stents and pacemakers.
Emory Decatur Hospital’s upgraded cath lab space is equipped with the latest Philips cardiac catheterization platform, the newest technology of its kind within the Emory Healthcare system.
Moving the lab and outfitting it with the latest technology has brought improvements to patient care and made our cath services more convenient. These investments, along with process improvements, have not only resulted in substantial increases in stent procedure volume, but also quality of care. For the first time ever, Emory Decatur Hospital was awarded the American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline Gold Awards for acute heart attack management.
In addition to the renovated cath lab, we’ve also modernized our echocardiography (echo) program by bringing in advanced, 3-D capable equipment found at other Emory locations.
Finally, our growing electrophysiology team has been instrumental in bringing in new equipment to perform ablation procedures that weren’t previously offered at Emory Decatur Hospital. This means patients can receive treatment at Emory Decatur Hospital rather than traveling elsewhere.
How is Emory Decatur Hospital equipped for advanced heart failure patients?
We believe heart failure patients should be able to make their care a priority, no matter where they live.
Emory Decatur Hospital serves a community with significant need for advanced heart failure care. Our advanced heart failure team sees patients at Emory Heart and Vascular Clinic at Decatur. This is an invaluable resource—especially for newly diagnosed patients transitioning from the hospital to home.
And for those patients with an established diagnosis of heart failure, it provides an opportunity for closer, more convenient multidisciplinary care that can best meet the needs of patients who may require more advanced therapies.
How does Emory Decatur Hospital benefit from being part of Emory Healthcare?
Emory Healthcare is an integrated academic health system—this means our physicians are engaged in contemporary continuing education, have opportunities for collaboration
across an array of specialties, and have access to a vast network of cutting-
edge research that ultimately serves to improve patient care
Our goal at Emory Decatur Hospital is to maintain the personal attention and accessibility of care that has always existed for this community while providing the resources of a larger, academic referral center like Emory Healthcare.
What does the future of heart care look like at Emory Decatur Hospital?
I’m excited about the direction in which we’re moving and for the future here at Emory Decatur Hospital.
This spring, we’ll add cardiac computerized tomography—also called cardiac CT—as an option for heart imaging. Although currently offered at other Emory Healthcare sites, this technology will be new to Emory Decatur and is an important technology in evaluating patients with chest pain, heart failure and other cardiac conditions.
The other exciting thing is that, while we’re making these improvements in heart and vascular care, other areas of the hospital are undertaking similar efforts. And I think our patients are taking notice.
Ultimately, I’m thrilled to be part of Emory Decatur Hospital, and I look forward to providing cardiology care for the greater DeKalb county community for many years to come.
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