LAWRENCEVILLE -- After waiting the better part of a month for its inaugural open heart patient, the Strickland Heart Center got its fill on Thursday and Friday, fitting in Gwinnett County's first four procedures in less than 48 hours.
The Strickland Heart Center opened at the start of the month at Gwinnett Medical Center's Lawrenceville campus, officially eliminating the county's moniker as the nation's largest without an open heart program. It began offering full-fledged cardiac surgeries on Jan. 9, but until this week, lead surgeons Drs. Alexander Justicz and David Langford hadn't been afforded the opportunity.
That changed, and rapidly. The duo performed three coronary bypasses within 36 hours before operating on a fourth patient that had gone into cardiac arrest, officials said.
"While the building and equipment are new to GMC, Dr. Justicz and I have worked together for many years, which has made for a very comfortable start for this program," Langford said in a news release. "We felt that the program would be a welcome addition considering the talented and experienced cardiologists affiliated with GMC."
Justicz and Langford have 35 years of combined experience and are both board certified in thoracic surgery.
This week's procedures marked the first-ever in Gwinnett, and came after about 18 months of construction. Prior to that, GMC had to go through years of litigious negotiations for the right to bring open heart to Gwinnett, a move that was protested by several Atlanta hospitals.
"The number of cardiac surgery cases we've seen of the last 36 hours is another indication of the untapped need in this community," Justicz said Friday.