Milestone: 1,000th TEE Procedure Performed

at Capital Cardiology

20 months after opening

the “first of its kind service”

in New York State

With his staff and colleagues gathered around him as he stood on the counter to be heard, “On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, we did our first TEE (transesophageal echocardiography) procedure at Capital Cardiology Associates,” announced Dr. Jeffrey Uzzilia. “Today, Dr. (Kevin) Woods performed our 1,000th test!” The room applauded the success of the TEE Cardioversion Suite at Capital Cardiology, the first of its kind in New York State.

What is a TEE?

A TEE is a non-surgical outpatient procedure, where a small, flexible tube containing a probe is inserted into the esophagus to provide live images of the heart. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. During the procedure, physicians, nurses and specialized staff observe your heart’s structure and function. Special attention is placed on the upper and lower chambers of the heart, the heart valves, and blood flow. After a stroke, this procedure is used to look for blood clots in the chambers of your heart as well as the examination of the heart after recent surgery.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Walt Disney

The Road to a Milestone

In his speech to commemorate the 1,000th TEE test, Dr. Uzzilia shared how the idea to bring this procedure to the practice – rather than have patients go to the hospital – came to action. “Dr. Lance Sullenberger and I discussed the process at the hospital, the stress it added to our patients. I had different ideas about how to perform the TEE here. When we looked for a model to compare our idea, there is no model. Like a lot of innovations here at Capital Cardiology, we are the first to do this!”

Dr. Uzzilia and the echo team in a TEE procedure

Internally, the staff at CCA worked to convert a part of the building at Corporate Woods to a suite where the TEE procedure could be performed. “It took a lot of work from our team, from our check-in team working with patients arriving for the procedure to our Echo (echocardiography) staff learning new processes to figuring out how to modify and manage the patient flow in the room,” said Dr. Uzzilia. This included remodeling but also required obtaining the latest technology, put in the hands of a staff that specializes in this level of care and advanced medicine. A board-certified cardiologist performs the procedure with a team trained at this an exceptional level of cardiac medicine. Additionally, there is a board-certified cardiac anesthesiologist present for all TEE scans.

After a few months of converting the floorplan, training the team, and acquiring the technology, the TEE Cardioversion Suite at Capital Cardiology Associates opened for its first patient appointment on May 16, 2017. I had the honor of attending that groundbreaking procedure; you would have thought they had been performing this test for years. Since then, the physicians and their team at CCA have been performing TEE’s on Tuesdays.

Hitting 1,000

Reaching 1,000 of anything is quite an accomplishment. As Dr. Uzzilia announced hitting that number, I thought of two recent milestones mentioned in the neighboring days. One came a few days earlier, Sunday, January 20th, during the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. As the Patriots were securing their advance to a record 11th Super Bowl appearance, the fact was stated that in his 24 years as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots, Bill Belichick has coached in 384 professional football games. In his 44 years of coaching in professional football, starting as a Staff Assistant for the then Baltimore Colts in 1975, Coach Belichick still hasn’t hit 1,000 games. He’s only coached in 690.

NBC has been promoting the 1,000th episode milestone of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” which made its debut from Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center on Feb. 17, 2014. The Winter Olympics coverage ran longer than expected on NBC that night, forcing Fallon to start his show at midnight. On his first broadcast, Jimmy collected a $100 bill from his first guest, Robert De Niro, who had once bet Fallon $100 that he would never host The Tonight Show. On Wednesday, January 23, 2018, Jimmy Fallon celebrated his 1,000th Tonight Show episode. It took him almost five years to reach that mark.

Those examples put in context the achievement of reaching the milestone of 1,000. It also showcases the unique combination of drive and passion you must possess to obtain that goal. Dr. Uzzilia recognized the leadership support he received in launching this idea. “I want to thank our CEO, Dr. Augustin DeLago, he was really supportive from day one, as he always is. If it’s better for patients and it’s something that we are willing to try and figure out, he is always willing to support us. It is the best feeling to come to work every day knowing that everyone wants to do the same thing: do what’s best for patients with an open mind to try something new, that has never been done before. I think that is why patients continue to come back here. We have such a caring group of people. I never hear from anyone at CCA, ‘Why are we doing this?’ I always hear, ‘Okay, how are we doing it?'”

Written by: Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
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