Dr. Sriharsha Athreya seen he was seeing numerous sufferers from Niagara throughout his time as an Interventional Radiologist in Hamilton.
So when a job alternative arose in Niagara Well being’s Interventional Radiology Division in late 2017, Dr. Athreya didn’t hesitate to use. He noticed it as an opportunity to offer extra in depth care nearer to residence for thus many Niagara sufferers.
“I believed, ‘We see lots of people from Niagara. I might assist there,’” Dr. Athreya remembers. “I knew Niagara Well being was welcoming, progressing and bringing change domestically for sufferers.”
Interventional radiology (IR) is a specialty of radiology the makes use of medical imaging, together with CT scans, fluoroscopy, MRI and ultrasound, to information minimally invasive surgical procedures that diagnose and deal with quite a lot of situations. IR procedures embody biopsies, inserting picc traces, angioplasty or stents to unblock blood vessels, and treating cancers with tumour ablation or via chemo-embolization, which restricts a tumour’s blood provide.
On the time of Dr. Athreya’s arrival, the division had two interventional radiologists working laborious to serve sufferers throughout restricted hours. If sufferers wanted the care of an interventional radiologist in a single day for situations akin to post-partum hemorrhages or abscess drainage, for instance, they needed to be transferred out of Niagara.
Quickly after Dr. Athreya made the transfer to Niagara Well being, he was promoted to Head of Interventional Radiology. The division added different fellowship-trained Interventional Radiologists, Diagnostic Imaging Nurses and Medical Radiation Technologists. Momentum grew to supply extra providers with assist from Dr. Julian Dobranowski, Niagara Well being Chief of Diagnostic Imaging, and Mike Sharma, Diagnostics Director.
A few of the Interventional Radiology crew at Niagara Well being. The division now has 4 fellowship-trained interventional radiologists, medical radiation technologists and nurses. Collectively, they assist sufferers all through their procedures, and help with restoration and discharge.
Turning into a hub of world-class healthcare
In 2019, underneath Dr. Athreya’s management and with funding from Most cancers Care Ontario, the division started providing image-guided tumour ablation, making Niagara Well being one of many few Ontario hospitals to supply the service. This low-risk, pinhole process accomplished underneath acutely aware sedation is used to deal with small tumours on the kidneys, lungs or liver by utilizing a superfine probe to burn or freeze the cancerous cells. Sufferers are discharged from hospital the identical day.
“That is evidence-based, focused therapy for most cancers tumours, particularly these underneath 4 centimetres,” Dr. Athreya says. “Beforehand, there have been only some centres in Ontario doing this, together with Toronto, Hamilton and London. Now we’re proud to say we’re providing this therapy domestically.”
Throughout a routine ultrasound in 2019, docs found a small tumour on Fern Gow’s proper kidney. Fern, a retired Registered Nurse who lives in Niagara Falls, was given the selection of surgical procedure, which might require the elimination of a part of her kidney, or tumour ablation via IR.
She opted for the latter after assembly with Dr. Athreya and researching the work he had accomplished within the subject beforehand.
“He was so approachable and really informative. I made a decision to go for it,” Fern remembers. “This system is nice for folks like me who don’t need to have surgical intervention and like one thing much less invasive. I used to be actually pleased to have this accomplished right here in Niagara via a remarkably high-quality program by extremely certified professionals. If I needed to go to Hamilton, it will have been harder.”
This November marks three years since Fern had the 60-minute process that left her feeling little ache and needing minimal restoration. She has been cancer-free ever since.
“I’m nonetheless right here,” she says. “I hope it retains going this manner.”
From left: Medical Radiation Technologists Carly Mascia, Brayden Shaw, Sarah Robb, Christopher Provias, Tiffany Sagloski and Dr. Sriharsha Athreya collect round a CT machine, which is utilized in a few of the procedures carried out by the Interventional Radiology division.
Because of the dedication of Dr. Athreya and the IR crew, the division now has 4 fellowship-trained interventional radiologists, medical radiation technologists and nurses. Collectively, they assist sufferers all through their procedures, and help with restoration and discharge.
The crew additionally created a streamlined system to handle appointments and optimize affected person care, together with letting sufferers know forward of time what to anticipate on the day of their process. This ensures appointments run on time and any cancellations are crammed rapidly to keep away from backlogs. Submit-procedure followup is co-ordinated via the IR Outpatient Session Clinic.
Interventional radiologists at the moment are on name 24/7, eliminating the necessity to ship sufferers to different hospitals after hours for IR therapies. This system expanded to deal with sufferers on the Niagara Falls Website two days per week, which has helped shorten wait instances for sure IR procedures.
“The work accomplished by all the Interventional Radiology crew has been commendable, notably in the course of the COVID pandemic, and I’m grateful to all of them,” Dr. Athreya says. “Now we are able to present image-guided therapy for most cancers in Niagara that’s minimally invasive, protected and restoration time is only some days with no long-term impact on the organ operate of lung, liver or kidneys. By providing these providers domestically, it instils confidence in clinicians and sufferers, too. We purpose to offer patient-centred care.”
Offering patient-centred care near residence
The work of Dr. Athreya and the IR crew has touched almost each program within the hospital.
From left: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Amanda Ouwendyk, Vanessa Vaicius and Marisa Boccia are a part of the Interventional Radiology crew.
They’re “an incredible asset,” offering well timed entry to biopsies and placing in traces and ports to offer therapy and ache reduction to sufferers, says Dr. Michael Levesque, Chief of Oncology. Dr. Athreya additionally checks in repeatedly with the crew on the Walker Household Most cancers Centre to ask what’s wanted in an effort to enhance providers and proceed offering high-quality healthcare.
“It took an individual like Dr. Athreya and different practitioners to care and construct a program. All of them consider in offering sufferers in Niagara with providers yow will discover elsewhere,” Dr. Levesque says. “They need this system to be one of the best it may be. We wish folks to return right here as a result of our program is world-class, not simply because it’s near residence.”
IR is vital within the care of dialysis sufferers, as effectively. The division performs essential vascular surgical procedures and procedures, together with angioplasties to maintain arteries and veins of dialysis sufferers open when fistulas begin to fail. These are “affected person lifelines that enable dialysis to scrub their blood,” says Dr. Danny Lagrotteria, Head of Service for Nephrology. So, too, are the long-term hemodialysis catheters the IR crew places in utilizing fluoroscopy, which is a kind of medical imaging that makes use of real-time, shifting X-ray photographs inside a affected person’s physique.
“They do lots for vascular entry to assist dialysis care,” Dr. Lagroterria says. “With out them and the success of that program, we must ship sufferers to Hamilton. The provision of IR right here has accomplished lots to enhance the standard of sufferers’ lives.”