Science/Technology
10:14 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Research & medical innovation under one roof

Amazing life-saving medical procedures and research are happening in Buffalo's Medical Corridor.  Medical innovation and radical changes to healthcare procedures are underway through the combined forces of the Jacobs Neurological Institute, Gates Vascular Institute and the Clinical and Translational Research Center.

WBFO's Eileen Buckley toured the Jacobs Neurological Institute to find out about changes in neurological and vascular medicine that is being shared globally from Buffalo's own "medical" backyard. 

Inside one of the research areas at the Jacobs Neurological Institute.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Treatment and patient care

As a private hospital treats patients, a public research center is creating new medical methods all under one roof. The building was specifically designed to share information and bring changes in treating neurological and heart problems. 

Our tour started in the emergency room of Gates Vascular Institute,  a 64-bed, state-of-the-art, ultra-modern ER.  It is touted as the leading place to go if you suffer from a stroke or heart attack in this region.

Dr. Nick Hopkins, Chief of Service and Neurosurgery shows off ultra-modern equipment used for heart and stroke care.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Dr. Nick Hopkins, who serves as the hospital's chief of service and neurosurgery,  one of the first in the county to start using catheters to fix medical problems in brain. He is the former chairman of the University at Buffalo's Neurosurgery Department. 

Dr. Hopkins points to a high-tech look for heart & stroke care.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Inside the ER - heart attacks

Hopkins proudly led the tour of the center describing the look of the ER as an "Apple store" with new technology for treating medical emergencies.

"So if it's a heart attack, you'll immediately have an EKG. It may have already been down in an ambulance, and you'll go straight upstairs to a cath lab (catheterization laboratory)," said Dr. Hopkins.  "Our door to balloon time here, that means from the time you hit that door to the time there is a balloon in an artery to open the artery up for your heart attack, is under 60 minutes, which, nationwide, is pretty spectacular."

In Buffalo region where the rate of heart attacks and strokes is 25 percent higher than the national average, this new, high-tech ER can save more lives. The center was designed to allow for quick diagnosis and treatment.

"The reason it is so fast is 1.) the building, but 2.) all of our cardiologist have come together and created a really efficient team so that when somebody comes in with a heart attack, these guys triage the patient and immediately the patient is headed up to the cat lab," said Hopkins. 

Patient room for treatment.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Some patients don't even get off the cart and are sent immediately sent to the next floor for a procedure.

Inside Gates Vascular Institute for patient care.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"More importantly, it's the people. It's the people that have come together and created a really efficient team that is focused on speed because every minute that you are delayed, the heart muscle is dying and it's even more critical for the brain because the brain tissue is much more sensitive," said Dr. Hopkins.

In just one year, treatments have evolved at the center. Dr. Hopkins noted that earlier this year, a patient with chest pains had two blocked Iliac arteries that connect to the heart that preventing the cardiologist from treating the heart.  Normally, the patient would have been sent home and waited to schedule surgery and the delay could have taken a month. Instead, with an in-house vascular surgeon on site, the patient was immediately treated and sent home the next day.

"Think about that in terms of the future of health care. Why should we be all spread out when we are fixing the same basic organ system, and that's the essence of this building," said Dr. Hopkins.

Fast stroke care

Inside Gates Vascular Institute where patients are quickly treated for strokes.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

For stroke emergencies, there is an extra step to determine what kind of a stroke it is.

"So we need to know that it is not a hemorrhage. So we need to know where the blockage is in the artery of your brain so that we can decide where to go and we need to know whether the brain is viable. If the brain is completely non-viable by the time you get here, then there is no sense in putting you through some extensive procedure," said Dr. Hopkins. 

"So you go into one of these two -- both beyond the state-of-the-art scanners. It takes us about five minutes to do the accusation and then in another five minutes we can have all the date we need to determine there is no hemorrhage, to determine if approximately where the blockage is and to determine whether the brain is viable." 

The entire facility stretches over 21,000 square feet, housing the Toshiba Stroke and Vascular Research Centers.

Dr. Hopkins circled our tour back to an outpatient area for elective heart and head surgery to prevent a heart attack or stroke. More than 25,000 patients from across the world are treated each year at the Jacobs Neurological Institute.

Inside the hallway of the Jacobs Neurological Institute, Gates Vascular Institute & Clinical and Translational Research Center in downtown Buffalo with modern lighting.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Outpatient care

Hopkins describes the outpatient center like a hotel -- with some neon lighting surrounding the nursing station and high-tech hospital rooms -- dedicated to outpatients.   

One of the state-of-the-art nursing stations.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Outpatient treatment center.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"And if you come in for an elected outpatient procedure -- like you had a little chest pain or somebody has a bit of a headache, and you come to see us in the office and we find you have an aneurysm and we want to fix that aneurysm, and we do it electively," said Dr. Hopkins. 

There are 16 cath labs located on one floor. Gates Vascular Institute is connected to Buffalo General Medical Center. The University at Buffalo oversees the research on innovation.

As one of the largest neruovascular centers in the world, Dr. Hopkins makes the claim that there is no other place that operates, with all the disciplines together on one floor, on this 'planet'. 

WBFO News asked Hopkins if the center is considered a leader in this type of medical innovation.

"Well that's the exciting part and the scary part, isn't it? Nobody has ever done it, so we've got to make it work and it's different. But so far, I would say the synergies have been truly amazing," said Dr. Hopkins