South Florida Hospital News
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February 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 8

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Profiles: Cardiology

Dr. Romualdo Segurola
Medical Director
The Heart Institute at Palmetto General Hospital

Wireless technology, voice controls and advanced audio and video feeds have made their way into just about every aspect of our lives – even surgical settings.

At the recently opened Heart Institute at Palmetto General Hospital, Medical Director Romualdo Segurola, M.D., performs open heart surgery in the facility’s "Smart ORs," which are the most advanced cardiac facilities south of Tampa.

The hospital boasts two fully integrated, voice-controlled operating rooms that provide Dr. Segurola and his associate, Dr. Alfredo Rego, with comprehensive access and control of critical devices along with networked digital documentation and telemedicine capabilities. They are able to consult with each other via two-way video and audio feeds located in the adjoining operating rooms and even with other cardiac surgeons in similarly equipped facilities across the country.

Contrasting typical cardiac ORs that are littered with hundreds of feet of equipment, Dr. Segurola benefits from Palmetto General Hospital’s "Smart ORs" wireless design, which results in maximum efficiency and patient safety.

Instead of dictating instructions to nurses, Dr. Segurola now gives simple verbal commands to Sidne®, a voice-recognition network that turns on lights, raises or lowers the surgical table, instructs cameras to zoom in and out, takes pictures and performs a variety of other functions.

Once an operation is completed, patients are taken from the hi-tech "Smart ORs" directly to recuperate in one of Florida’s most advanced cardiac Intensive Care Units. The 10-bed unit, with individual rooms for each patient, is wired to the ORs via television monitors so that nurses can begin preparing for a patient’s arrival before he/she ever leaves the operating table.

"The combination of state-of-the art technology, a highly-trained medical staff and our use of a universal bed concept in the ICU gives patients treated at The Heart Institute at Palmetto General Hospital the best chance for a successful recovery," says Dr. Segurola. "I am proud to lead a facility that provides these revolutionary services to South Florida residents."

Romualdo Segurola is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and president of the South Florida Heart and Lung Institute. He is a graduate of the Pedro Henriquez Urena National University School of Medicine in the Dominican Republic.


Dr. James Morris, Lead Surgeon
Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute

James Morris, M.D., is lead surgeon for the Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute at Boca Raton Community Hospital. Launched in September 2006, Dr. Morris leads the open heart surgery team in offering this service for the first time in the history of the hospital. Dr. Morris was chosen from a field of more than 100 qualified candidates from across the country, and he brings to Boca Raton and surrounding area residents an expertise in off-pump surgery, valve reconstructive surgery and a minimally invasive atrial fibrillation surgery program.

Dr. Morris came to Boca Raton from Charleston, SC where he has been the Director of the Heart Center and Cardiac Services at Roper Hospital, part of Roper Saint Francis Health System, since 1996. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth University then attended Duke University’s School of Medicine, where he continued through their surgery and cardiothoracic programs. He was an Assistant then Associate Professor of Surgery at the world renowned Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School.

"I have been aware for quite some time of the outstanding reputation of Boca Raton Community Hospital," said Dr. Morris. "When I learned they had been approved to start an open heart surgery program and were building a state-of-the art institute to fulfill this need in the community, I jumped at what I believe is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Dr. Morris has been the principal investigator and co-investigator on a number of Clinical Cardiovascular Research Activities and has been published in Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Annals of Thoracic Surgery and Clinical Anatomy. He is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Fellow of American College of Surgeons and served on the Cardiovascular Council of the American Heart Association.


Dr. Arthur Katz, Co-Surgeon
Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute

Arthur H. Katz, M.D., was hired to work with Lead Open Heart Surgeon James Morris, M.D., to offer open heart surgery for the first time in the history of the hospital as part of the Christine E. Lynn Cardiovascular Institute at Boca Raton Community Hospital. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a cardiac surgeon to help launch a new program, and I am honored and privileged to be a part of the Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute," said Dr. Katz. "Boca Raton Community Hospital has done an outstanding job of recruiting a world-class cardiovascular team consisting of two highly experienced surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists, cardiovascular intensive care nurses, and step down unit nurses. Local cardiologists will now be able to perform interventions and procedures, such as coronary artery angioplasty and stenting, at Boca Raton Community Hospital."

Dr. Katz came to Boca Raton Community Hospital from a private practice in Palm Beach Gardens where he was a cardiothoracic surgeon and partner. He completed his training at NYU Medical Center. Special interests in adult cardiac surgery include off pump coronary artery bypass (OPCAB), mitral valve repair, left ventricular remodeling for congestive heart failure and ablative procedures for atrial fibrillation. In the last few years, Dr. Katz has performed over 1,000 OPCAB surgeries and approximately 75 off pump pulmonary vein isolations.


Dr. Jonathan Seckler, Chief of Cardiology
Christine E. Lynn Heart Institute

Jonathan I. Seckler, M.D., is Chief of Cardiology at Boca Raton Community Hospital.

Dr. Seckler and his colleagues were integral to the approval and development of the Christine E. Lynn Cardiovascular Institute which eliminated the need for patients to travel a possibly life-threatening distance for comprehensive cardiovascular care.

Now, interventional cardiologists like Dr. Seckler can perform procedures such as angioplasty and stent insertion right at Boca Raton Community Hospital rather than scheduling the procedures in Delray Beach or Fort Lauderdale.

This level of cardiac care is critical to the community. The average patient admitted to Boca Raton Community Hospital is 73, and nearly 50% of all patients admitted to our institution either carry a primary or subsequently are diagnosed with a cardiac disorder requiring attention. Furthermore, cardiac patients who are seen in our emergency department are often evaluated with state-of-the art imaging technique including echocardiography, nuclear medicine studies, and a state-of-the-art cardiac CT scanner.

"Indeed, Boca Raton Community Hospital was built by the community for the community. In nearly 40 years of services to the community, we have never forgotten why we were founded, nor why we continue to serve," said Dr. Seckler. "It is because of the commitment and the community’s ongoing support combined with the increasing medical demands of a growing and aging population in Boca Raton that the community hospital chose to undertake this major project, a project that promises to transform the face of health care in South Florida for years to come."

Dr. Seckler completed his Internship and Residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and his Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Harold Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Chief of Surgery
Florida Medical Center

Dr. Harold Roberts, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., cardiothoracic surgeon and chief of surgery at Florida Medical Center, is known for his innovation, skill and consistent excellence.

Until recently, there was no cure in sight for patients with atrial fibrillation, a common heart-rhythm irregularity. Dr. Roberts brought new hope to South Florida sufferers of the disease when he became one of the few doctors in the nation to offer a new, minimally invasive surgical procedure known as the Mini-Maze. The procedure, which is more than 90% successful, destroys a small amount of tissue in the area where the irregular heart signal starts, making it impossible for that tissue to conduct electrical impulses and allowing the heart to resume a normal, healthy rhythm.

Along with introducing new procedures to the area, Dr. Roberts specializes in mitral valve repair. According to the Agency for Healthcare Administration, he led the state in the number of these procedures performed for the past seven years.

Dr. Roberts performs nearly all types of cardiac, general thoracic and vascular procedures. He routinely does minimally invasive valve and coronary artery bypass surgeries and was the first surgeon in Broward County to gain expertise in the use of the carbon dioxide laser for transmyocardial revascularization.

A board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon in the Ft. Lauderdale area since 1990, Dr. Roberts’ practice, South Florida Cardiovascular Surgical Associates, is based on the campus of Florida Medical Center in Lauderdale Lakes. A graduate of the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, he has completed a residency in general surgery at the University of Maryland, a cardiothoracic fellowship at the University of Illinois and a fellowship in adult cardiac surgery at Beth Israel (a Harvard training facility). Dr. Roberts and his wife, Angelica, live in Coral Springs and have three children, Sophia, Peter and Helena. A classically-trained pianist, Dr. Roberts still takes lessons and occasionally performs in local recitals.


Melissa Zinderman
Cardiovascular Patient Educator
Frances Langford Heart Center

"Educating Patients at the Heart of Her Job"

As the cardiovascular patient educator for the new Frances Langford Heart Center at Martin Memorial, multi-tasking comes with the territory for Melissa Zinderman.

On a Friday morning in early December, Zinderman was describing her day-to-day duties when she fielded a call from the daughter of a patient wondering when her father would have open-heart surgery. Before Zinderman could fully explain the situation, her cell phone rang. It was another patient, who told her he had overcome medical conditions that had prohibited heart surgery and that he would be eligible to undergo the procedure soon.

Zinderman took time to answer both callers’ questions, provided them with additional information, offered genuine encouragement, then turned to greet a familiar face walking past her office on the cardiac step-down unit. An open-heart surgery patient was walking by with a physical therapist and Zinderman couldn’t help herself.

"Look at you!" she said exuberantly. "You’re doing so well!"

While her title may be patient educator, Zinderman’s role is multi-faceted. When patients have open-heart surgery at the Frances Langford Heart Center, Zinderman is one of their initial contacts. She does their pre-admitting paperwork with them, does an EKG, draws blood for tests and sets them up for an x-ray. They look over a packet of information created specifically for the heart center, which includes information on cardiac rehabilitation, contact numbers and the importance of smoking cessation and healthy eating. Through it all, she informs them of what to expect before, during and after the surgery.

But she is also a liaison for patients and their families. She sometimes visits family members during surgery and provides updates to them on patient status. Zinderman answers a wide array of questions, making sure everyone stays as informed as possible.

"It helps people who, maybe 24 hours before may not have known they have cardiovascular disease. Now they’re talking about having open-heart surgery," Zinderman said. "It relieves a lot of anxiety to have a contact person who provides them with as much information as possible."

She also serves as the Society of Thoracic Surgeons data collector for the heart center, tracking patients for 30 days after surgery to make sure there are no complications or problems. And, as facilitator of Heartlink, a club that serves as a support group for cardiac patients and their families, Zinderman maintains contact with patients who have come through the center.

Zinderman, an RN, worked in critical and emergency care prior to assuming the role of patient educator when the Frances Langford Heart Center opened in August 2006. Her position was patterned after a model created by the Ocala Heart Institute, which partners with Martin Memorial for open-heart surgery.

"The best part of my job is to see them walk in my door eight weeks later," Zinderman said. "I had one gentleman come in and say, ‘Look at me!’ And I just said, ‘Look at you.’ That’s what it’s all about."


Paul Vignola, M.D.
Mount Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Paul Vignola is a highly skilled physician who has been in practice for more than 30 years. As chief of Cardiology Services and director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Vignola heads up Miami-Dade County’s most active cardiac center. "I’m proud of the cardiac team we have built here," Dr. Vignola said. "We are clearly distinguished from other area hospitals by our level of experience."

He not only demonstrates outstanding commitment to his patients, Dr. Vignola also helps mentor and train new physicians. He is also a fellow in the American College of Cardiology and has co-authored numerous articles and publications on cardiac care and treatment. Dr. Vignola attended Fordham University and graduated Cum Laude from Yale University School of Medicine.


Mariners Hospital Promotes Gayle Maimo

Mariners Hospital has promoted Gayle Maimo to director of cardiopulmonary services.

Prior to this new position, Maimo managed Mariners’ blood gas laboratory and the pulmonary rehabilitation program. A registered respiratory therapist and certified pulmonary function technologist, Maimo has been an employee with Baptist Health South Florida for 29 years. In addition to her tenure at Mariners, Maimo worked at Baptist Hospital and South Miami Hospital.

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