December 4, 2023
Increasing capacity
Orange Park Medical Center now has two electrophysiology labs.
Increasing capacity
Gary Pettit became the 100th heart transplant recipient in September at Cleveland Clinic Florida.
Increasing capacity
Wolfson is the second member of the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Heart Institute network. St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa also has a partnership agreement with the institute.

Economic Backbone - Cardiac Care

Orange Park Medical Center increases its capacity

Laura Hampton | 1/27/2020

Orange Park Medical Center has completed its cardiology program with the opening of an $11-million, 12,000-sq.-ft. cardiac care unit. In addition to 14 recovery rooms, the facility near Jacksonville houses two electrophysiology labs, which are used to test, diagnose and treat people with abnormal heart rhythms.

“Patients don’t have to go anywhere,” says Dr. Firas El Sabbagh. “They can get everything they need in their back yard, and it’s state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technology.”

As an electrophysiologist, El Sabbagh specializes in treating patients with irregular heartbeats, or heart rhythm disorders. Though these disorders have many names, the most common is atrial fibrillation (AFib). El Sabbagh estimates almost 5 million Americans have AFib. Though AFib has multiple risk factors, the most common is age.

“Patients are living longer because of all the available therapies,” El Sabbagh says. “These patients will tend to experience more AFib, which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.”

Currently, Orange Park Medical Center treats about 500 patients with abnormal heart rhythms each year. “I’d expect the volume to probably double a year from now,” El Sabbagh says.

El Sabbagh is one of nine staff members at the cardiac care unit, which is part of a larger $126-million expansion project. Other projects include a 101,435-sq.-ft. addition that will house 48 patient beds, a medical office building and expansion of the hospital’s NICU.

The overall expansion is expected to add more than 100 jobs and increase the hospital’s licensed beds from 317 to 365.


Two Broward hospitals marked heart transplant milestones in 2019.

In September in Weston, 71-year-old Gary Pettit of Hutchinson Island received the 100th heart transplant performed by Cleveland Clinic Florida since it founded its heart transplant program five years ago. By the end of November, Cleveland Clinic had done six more.

Meanwhile, Hollywood-based public system Memorial Healthcare marked its 50th adult heart transplant in five years when North Miami resident Alex Lacroix successfully underwent the procedure. Lacroix had lived with end-stage heart disease for two years before the transplant in November.

Both systems have a way to go to catch the state leaders. Since 1988, there have been 4,312 heart transplants in Florida. Tampa General leads with 1,378, followed by UF Health Shands with 1,063 and Jackson Memorial in Miami with 737 as of November 2019.

Cleveland Clinic Florida started with organ transplants in 2013 with livers and kidneys. It says it has the fastest-growing transplant program in Florida and has performed more than 1,000 transplants of organs of all types. — Mike Vogel

Teaming Up

Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville and the Heart Institute at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh are working together to treat young heart patients. In addition to collaborating with Wolfson Children’s Hospital to provide cardiothoracic surgery services, UPMC Children’s Hospital supports patients, families and care givers in Wolfson’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit via telemedicine.

“We recognized that we needed additional pediatric cardiac surgery resources and expertise to make our care even better,” said Wolfson President Michael D. Aubin during the announcement last year.

“That’s why we chose to become a member of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Heart Institute Network.”

Wolfson is the second member of the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Heart Institute network. St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa also has a partnership agreement with the institute.


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Tags: Healthcare, Life Sciences, Economic Backbone, Cardiac Care, Feature

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