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After 1 1/2 years of planning and construction, WCA Hospital's $1.6 million Cardiac Catheterization Lab is up and running.

Hospital officials showed off the first-floor laboratory, a component of WCA's Heart Center, during a three-hour open house held Sunday.

Dr. James Cirbus, Heart Center director, said the lab enables the hospital to conduct a full diagnosis of heart or related problems.

"We do these on patients with suspected heart disease -- namely involving the coronary arteries where we suspect they may have a blockage," Cirbus said. "They usually (have) chest pains, sometimes they come in with heart attacks, sometimes they come in with just symptoms -- shortness of breath or cardiac rhythm disturbances."

Eugene Graham, technical director of imaging services and cardiology, described the lab as state of the art.

"The technology is also filmless, (using) digital images," Graham said. "We're able to send those images to other institutions for review. We can do that in about 10 to 15 minutes during the procedure, which is fantastic."

Hospital officials said the new lab will allow low-risk patients to undergo the full diagnostic procedure in Jamestown.

This saves them a trip to Buffalo or Erie, Pa.

"We traveled actually to several hospitals, talking about what kind of equipment would be the best suited for our patients here at WCA Hospital," Graham said. "I know that we have found that particular piece of equipment, and it is working marvelously well."

Cirbus noted that several patients were treated Sept. 5, the day the lab opened. For most, catheterization lab procedures are don on an outpatient basis.

Hospital officials said the lab was built with funds from WCA's $9 million capital campaign.

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