Very Best Heart Care from Our Region's Academic Health System

The sensation of nagging heartburn was keeping Irene Warenchak awake at night. It seemed nothing she did would make it go away. Eventually, a close friend encouraged her to see a doctor. So she made an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

It turned out that her persistent pain was not caused by heartburn or reflux, but something far more sinister.

When he saw that she had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Warenchak’s gastroenterologist sent her to Suzie Mookherjee, MD, a cardiologist at Albany Medical Center. Based on her symptoms, Warenchak underwent a stress test—an exercise test used to evaluate the heart’s pumping capabilities and blood flow. When she failed the test, she was immediately sent for a cardiac catheterization, revealing she had not one, not two, but three blockages.

When she woke up after that procedure, Warenchak recalled she was surrounded by physicians who told her she needed to have open heart surgery. Warenchak was just 61 years old at the time. “I was in shock.”

She underwent a triple heart bypass at Albany Medical Center, and within months was feeling back to her old self—even joking about how well her surgeon did, leaving very little scarring.

Warenchak, of Colonie, was fortunate to have Albany Medical Center nearby, and to be able to have such a rapid diagnosis, seamless care, and surgery close to home. Now, patients throughout the Albany Med Health System benefit from the same cohesive care.

The System provides heart care using the latest techniques and leading-edge surgical procedures to address routine and complex medical issues. Because the System is an academic health system, our patients have access to clinical trials for new treatments and devices, and they benefit from the ongoing research conducted at Albany Medical College.

Patients can receive heart care at Albany Medical Center, Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, and Saratoga Hospital, with the option to transfer patients in need of more advanced care to Albany Medical Center.

Across the System, physicians are working together more than ever to quickly and securely share information that raises the level of patient care. Our new Systemwide electronic medical record, which has now been implemented at Albany Medical Center and will be followed by the three other hospitals later this year, supports these efforts.

One of the longest standing partnerships began in 2017, when Albany Medical Center and Columbia Memorial Health formally and fully integrated their cardiology services. Since then, specialists and subspecialists on the cardiology teams at each hospital have been collaborating to share resources and technologies, and several cardiologists see patients at both the Albany and Hudson campuses.

“A patient who enters any point in the Albany Med Health System should and will receive the highest standard of care,” said Edward Philbin, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine at Albany Medical Center and medical director of cardiac services at Columbia Memorial Health.

“Ultimately, our overarching goal is to deliver as much care locally as we can,” said Dr. Philbin.