A new Round Rock extension of the Heart Hospital of Austin will give Williamson County residents increased local access to preventive care and advanced surgical procedures such as open heart surgery.

According to hospital officials, Heart Hospital of Austin at St. David's Round Rock Medical Center is a new 15,390-square-foot facility that will offer the full range of cardiac care, including some procedures never before offered in the county.

"Round Rock [and Williamson County's] growth is significant and that means we have a lot of new people moving to the area," said Deborah Ryle, chief executive officer for St. David's Round Rock. "With that growth, we feel there is a need to grow our own very specialized services, particularly cardiology services."

The Round Rock Heart Hospital will open May 1 with advanced equipment and two new surgeons. Hospital officials also plan for a hybrid operating room with sophisticated imaging equipment that will provide detailed views of the vascular system, Ryle said.

"This venture has allowed Round Rock to do the full spectrum of cardiac care," said W. Chance Conner, the new medical director of Cardiothoracic Surgical Services at the Round Rock Heart Hospital. "[Previously, patients] would have to travel to Austin to get advanced surgical procedures."

Round Rock is becoming a healthcare destination because of the growing number of health care facilities in the area, Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw said.

"One of the terms we've started throwing around for Round Rock is 'destination medical,' which is a spinoff of [the phrase] 'destination retail' [because] we were really working to make Round Rock a destination retail location," he said. "I spend a lot of time in the Hill Country and you wouldn't believe how many times you run into people in some of these smaller communities that now say they come to Round Rock for all their medical needs."

Michael Grad, medical director of cardiology at St. David's Round Rock, said he has worked for the center for ten years and believes area residents will appreciate the local accessibility of advanced cardiac services.

"Now we don't have to send patients to Houston, to Dallas or to downtown [Austin]," he said. "At the end of the day, [having the ability to] be around your family and be around the same staff, why would you choose somewhere else?"