Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Becomes Sonoma County’s First Hospital to Perform a Patent Foramen Oval

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Becomes Sonoma County’s First Hospital to Perform a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure Surgery

On Tuesday, June 29, 2021, caregivers and physicians at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital successfully performed the first Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) closure on patient, Roberto Bedolla of Healdsburg, at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.  photo-of-robert-bedolla-in-garden

PFO—a small hole between the two upper chambers of the heart—is common and for most people, it is a benign finding; however, in some people, the PFO can open widely and can lead to stroke or other issues. PFO surgery closes the gap in the heart by placing a permanent implant—a GORE CARDIOFORM® Septal Occluder—through the femoral vein.  

After Roberto had a stroke, it was recommended that he undergo this surgery to avoid future strokes.  

“The procedure was simple and straight-forward. The doctors and nurses and everybody were very respectful and kind. I was confident in the Santa Rosa Memorial team,” he said. “I liked that we didn’t have to travel and [that family] were closer in case something happened.” 

The procedure was approximately two hours long and went very smoothly. After being admitted overnight, the patient was discharged the following morning without any complications.  
Roberto is a supervisor at the Foley Family Wines ranch in Geyserville, Sonoma County and, since the surgery, he has returned to enjoying the things he loves—exercising, spending time with loved ones and enjoys walking up the vineyard hills.  

“Within two weeks I was back to my normal life,” he said.  

“We are thrilled to be able to have a minimally invasive alternative to open heart surgery for our patients’ right here in Santa Rosa,” said Lorri Martinez, RN, EP Lab Lead. “Up until now, patients would have to drive to the city to have this advanced procedure; Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is the only hospital able to perform this in Sonoma County. The team did outstanding work, and I could not have asked for a smoother first procedure. I would like to recognize the entire team for a job well done!”  

Performing these procedures locally was made possible by the expertise of the EP team, including Rajveer Sangera, M.D. one of the hospital’s newest St. Joseph Health Medical Group cardiologists.  Dr. Sangera trained the EP lab team on the intricacies of the procedure—which incorporates similar techniques to the WATCHMAN procedure the hospital has performed for years to reduce AFib stroke risk.  

“Our goal has always been to provide a comprehensive structural heart program to our community,” said Wendy Dunnagan, Cath Lab Manager. “We are now pleased to offer four life-saving heart procedures—Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), WATCHMAN, Mitra Clip and now PFO Closure—so our neighbors can get the care they need locally. I am proud that we have the expertise and technology available to ensure our community members have access the highest quality of care, close to home.”