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Associate Director, Cardiology Start Date: 1978
FIRST ANGIOPLASTY: JITTERS AND SUCCESS
On February 12, 1981, I arrived at the Hospital Center at 5 a.m. in the dark hours of the morning, because we were scheduled to do the hospital's first angioplasty. I wasn't alone. Nelson Puig, the chief cardiovascular technologist, was there, too. We were anxious, because this technique was so new. The patient wasn't even scheduled until 7:30, but I wanted to check and re-check the equipment myself just to be sure. We had been ready for an angioplasty case for six months, but back then, only a few patients were candidates for this procedure. We didn't have today's advanced tools or imaging technology; we had to be cautious.
We were all thrilled that the first patient did very well, but it took another three months to find a second patient who fit the criteria. That year, we performed a total of six angioplasties, and we thought that was great! This past year, there were more than 19,000 cardiac catheterizations done at the Hospital Center. It's been an amazing ride from those first few cases to where we are today. I'm grateful to have been a part of it, and also grateful to Dr. Jim Bacos (former chief of cardiology) whose vision and leadership helped to establish the hospital as a world-class heart center.