April 9, 2012

Cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at CAMC have more than 900 years of combined experienceCardiac services at CAMC have been at the top of the field for decades. CAMC remains committed to staying at the forefront of cardiac care and serving our region for years to come.

“The skill and experience of the medical staff in an environment that encourages excellence in patient care has kept us at the top,” said Donald Lilly, MD, cardiologist and clinical director of CAMC cardiovascular services.

“CAMC has been blessed with cardiovascular physicians who want to stay on the cutting edge of emerging technology. The steady volume of patients at CAMC has allowed them to keep their skills honed.”

“Collectively, our cardiac services are the most experienced in the state,” added John Deel, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon. “All of our physicians were trained at various facilities across the U.S., so we bring a different set of skills to CAMC.”

Teamwork between physicians and staff is a key component of cardiac services at CAMC.

“This is a constant focus of our hospital,” said Clennie Arthur, III, associate administrator at CAMC Memorial Hospital. “The continuing education and training of our staff helps us pursue our goal of meeting and exceeding the expectations of our patients.”

#1 in Procedures Performed

CAMC’s experienced physicians continue to perform about 8,500 heart catheterizations and 2,700 cardiac interventions per year, even though one of the emerging technologies that has changed the face of cardiac services during the past few years is the use of drug-eluting stents in patients. These stents have lessened the need for repeat procedures.

“Restenosis, or re-narrowing of the arteries after coronary intervention, was cut from an average of 20 percent to less than 10 percent with drug-eluting stents,” Lilly said.

Studies have shown improved outcomes in patients with heart attacks who are treated with stents. Bypass surgery is a better option in some patients. CAMC performs many procedures for patients suffering from persistent diseases of the heart.

“We offer coronary artery bypass procedures with multiple arterial grafts, which have been shown to last longer than operations with single artery and vein grafts in the leg,” said Sulaiman Hasan, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon. “This translates into fewer re-operations and longer survival in younger patients. We also offer repair procedures for heart valves which do not need replacement. This allows patients to keep their own valves, avoid blood thinners and better preserve heart function.”

CAMC performs about 1,300 open heart operations a year, which makes it the largest surgical facility in the state and one of the largest in the country.

“We also perform mitral valve repairs through a minimally-invasive incision under the breast,” Hasan said. “In patients with an aortic aneurysm, which causes the aortic valve to leak, we re-implant the patient’s own valve into a channel of appropriate size, which replaces the dilated aorta and eliminates the leakage. In addition, we offer a variety of repairs for aortic aneurysms in the chest. The Maze operation for atrial fibrillation is also offered through a small incision under the breast.”

For patients who do not need valve-replacement or open heart surgery, CAMC offers other options. The electrophysiology (EP) program provides a comprehensive approach to manage all aspects of cardiac rhythm disorders. Approximately 1,500 EP cases per year are performed in the electrophysiology lab, which includes pacemakers, ICDs, electrophysiology studies and complex ablations.

“There are hundreds of ablations, pacemakers and implantable defibrillator procedures performed annually at CAMC,” said Brett Faulknier, DO, FACC, cardiology and electrophysiology specialist. “Atrial fibrillation ablations are being performed more frequently, which help control atrial fibrillation in patients whose symptoms have not responded well to medication therapy.”

What is most unique about the EP lab at CAMC is that the pioneer staff - a physician and two nurses - have remained here since its inception.

“In addition to the presence of experienced lab personnel there is a core group of youthful, bright and well-trained individuals eager to propel the EP lab services forward toward greater efficiency, quality and up-to-date care,” said Ronald McCowan, MD, FACC, pioneering cardiology/electrophysiology physician.

“So not only has this CAMC service line seen growth in numbers, but these latter benchmarks place it amongst the top labs in the country.”

State-of-the-Art Facility

The opening of the state-of-the-art CAMC Heart and Vascular Center a few years ago has helped keep CAMC cardiac services at the top.

“The [opening of the] center provided an expansion of cardiac catheterization and EP services with a focus on pre-and-post procedure patient services,” Arthur said. “This new technology and a patient-centered design have enhanced the patient experience.”

“From a cardiologist’s perspective, the opening of the center gave us access to a state-of-the-art medical facility with improved patient flow, as well as greater patient and family comfort,” Lilly said.

The Heart and Vascular Center offers seven catheterization labs and two electrophysiology labs. These labs were designed with efficiency in mind, as patients enter from the perimeter and supplies are located in center, allowing quicker access for cardiologists and heart surgeons to supplies needed for procedures.

“Not only did we get seven new cardiac catheterization labs with better X-ray equipment, the labs were large enough to accommodate new and future technologies, and the design with a central core for storage gave us ready access to needed equipment without having to maintain a large expensive inventory,” Lilly said.

The center also has direct access to the surgery suite at Memorial for emergency situations.

Plans for the Future

“We continue to prepare for the future and work hard to anticipate what the needs of our patients will be,” Arthur said. “Our goal is not only to remain in the top of peoples’ minds when they think about cardiac care, but also to provide excellent patient experiences every day.”

Physicians predict an exciting future as well.

“In the future, we’ll be getting into percutaneous transluminal aortic valve implantation in people who are not candidates for open heart surgery,” Hasan said.

“I see more minimally invasive procedures, more valve surgeries and a more combined approach of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons in our future,” Deel said.

Cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at CAMC have more than more than 900 years of combined experience. With the expertise of the physicians and medical staff, CAMC will remain at the forefront of cardiac care in the future.

For more information about CAMC cardiac services, visit camc.org/whatnumbers.

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