The health care industry in Central Massachusetts continues to grow and expand – and Worcester’s Saint Vincent Hospital is no exception.

In December, Saint Vincent opened a hybrid operating room – an O.R. featuring a “state-of-the-art, high-end imaging system” for endovascular and cardiac procedures, said Melinda Darrigo, senior director of operations and executive director for heart and vascular services.

Unlike a chest x-ray, for example, which provides a snapshot or a static image of the chest, this imaging system is almost like a “constant, continuous x-ray,” Director of Cardiac Endoscopy Services Bethanne Mazzola explained. It allows the physician to see everything happening inside a patient in real-time as they navigate catheters into the body to visualize specific areas in need of evaluation or treatment.

Built to meet patient needs, Ms. Darrigo says this room can accommodate a wide range of procedures from the less complex, such as looking at the blood flow of a leg, to the intricate, such as placing large stents or grafts in major blood vessels.

Dr. John Najjar, chief of vascular surgery, describes the hybrid O.R. as “the crown jewel” of the “endovascular revolution” which has been taking place since the 1990s. That is, technology advancement in the last decades has allowed for procedures which traditionally required open vascular surgeries to evolve into minimally-invasive endovascular procedures.

This means the operation can be done from within the blood vessel eliminating the need to make an incision. And access to the hybrid room – “the crown jewel, the best available technology” – Dr. Najjar said, means physicians can now complete endovascular procedures “with better imaging, more accuracy, and hopefully get better results.”

While operations on aneurysms, carotid arteries, and other similar cases primarily performed in this room have existed for a long time, the technology provided by the hybrid O.R. offers minimally-invasive alternatives which allow for shorter operation and quicker recovery times, among other benefits. “From a patient perspective,” Ms. Mazzola argued, “that’s preferred.”

Though this isn’t the only local hybrid O.R. – other hospitals, including UMass Memorial Medical Center, have them – Ms. Darrigo said the addition to Saint Vincent provides patients with “access and choice.” Between providers and insurers, Central Mass residents “now have more choices for where they can go for services,” she said, adding that this allows Saint Vincent to offer services they previously could not.

CEO Carolyn Jackson echoed this sentiment saying the room responds to one of Saint Vincent’s overarching goals of keeping patients in the Worcester market for their care.

Bringing “high-end technology to a medium-sized, high-quality organization like Saint Vincent,” which also gives the “hometown feel” to patients, she said, ensures local residents can get the care they need right in their own backyard – no need to drive to Boston.

Simultaneously, construction of the hybrid O.R. expands their already “very robust cardiovascular program” and service line, Ms. Jackson said. “We’ve been trying to round out our portfolio, and this is another key piece.”

Ultimately, Dr. Najjar said, it shows Saint Vincent and parent company Tenet Healthcare are “investing large resources into the cardiovascular program here … and that means they care about getting better results and setting themselves apart as a center of excellence.”

Demonstrating their commitment to the community as they continue to grow their services, Saint Vincent’s latest investment in a hybrid O.R. is just one example of how local health care institutions are responding to the growing demands of the area, keeping pace with Worcester as the city too continues to grow.

Dominique Goyette-Connerty is a correspondent for The Chamber Exchange. If you have any questions, please contact Emily Gowdey-Backus via email.