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8.20.2013
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News Room: BUSINESS COURIER: St. Elizabeth plans $30M heart and vascular center: EXCLUSIVE

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Business Courier
By: Barrett J. Brunsman

St. Elizabeth Healthcare will break ground Nov. 21 for a $13.8 million Heart and Vascular Institute building at its hospital in Edgewood, Ky.

The building will be part of a new $30 million investment in an existing cardiovascular program that hospital officials expect to draw more patients from throughout the region, create highpaying jobs and earn St. Elizabeth recognition as a leader in medical research.

The institute is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015, but St. Elizabeth has already begun adding doctors, other staff and high-tech equipment, officials told me.

About 50 to 75 new positions will be created, including at least five doctors, said John Dubis, president and CEO. St. Elizabeth already has about 7,400 employees, including about 50 doctors who work in some way to treat cardiac or vascular maladies such as heart disease and stroke.

The 39,000-square-foot building at 1 Medical Village Drive will be an addition to the hospital’s main building, which will undergo renovations to accommodate the expanded cardiology and vascular services.

Although open-heart surgery and other high-end care for cardiovascular patients will remain focused at the Edgewood campus, St. Elizabeth will continue to provide extensive cardiology and diagnostic services at its other hospitals as well as at many outpatient areas such as doctor’s offices, said Gary Blank, senior vice president and chief patient services officer/chief nursing officer. It has five other main locations, including facilities in Covington, Fort Thomas and Florence.

About half of the $30 million in improvements will be paid for through internal financial operations and the rest will be raised through the St. Elizabeth Foundation, Dubis said. More than $8 million has already been raised toward the foundation’s $15 million goal.

In addition to the construction project, the money will pay for research programs and new technology.

“We’re embarking on a vascular research program that will encompass both cardiology and vascular together in some of the newer areas, such as renal denervation stenting,” said Dr. D.P. Suresh, a director of St. Elizabeth Physicians Heart & Vascular.

“As the institute starts rolling, we’re going to have an aggressive chest pain pathway program that we are developing,” Suresh said. “In terms of patient care, it will reduce the length of stay. They will get a single procedure. Let’s say somebody comes in with a chest pain syndrome and we’re able to do the CT scan within the first hour or two. The idea would be the patient would get an answer (and) then would go home rather than sitting in a hospital for 24 to 36 hours trying to get further imaging.”

In addition, a hybrid operating room is being expanded and revamped to include the latest technology, Blank said.

The hospital also has just opened a second electrophysiology room to diagnose and treat electrical activities of the heart, Blank said.

“It is state of the art with all the new technology that allows us to do the most current and cutting-edge ablations (a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems) and electrophysiology work,” he said.

St. Elizabeth is already one of only a few hospitals in the region with a Toshiba Aquilion ONE 320-slice CT scanner, a powerful X-ray imaging device that cost $3.4 million when it was purchased in 2008, Dubis said. It can make a 3D image of the heart in less time than it takes for the organ to beat one time.

“It can diagnose the condition of your heart and arteries in one-third of a second,” Dubis said. “It’s a 10-minute procedure. You don’t even have to put on a hospital gown. You just open up your shirt or your blouse, they put some leads on, they put you through the CT scan. …

“You can sit down with the radiologist, who shows you on a computer screen a three dimensional image that rotates 360 degrees on an axis and identifies things that can’t be seen under normal cardiac catheterization procedures,” Dubis said. “Our radiologists have said unequivocally that they’ve probably saved a couple hundred lives (because of the machine).”

Dubis said he thinks St. Elizabeth already has the premier cardiology program in Greater Cincinnati, noting that some residents of Southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana travel to the system’s Northern Kentucky hospitals to be treated for heart and vascular issues. He expects those numbers to rise.

“We do more inpatient heart procedures than any other hospital – not just in Kentucky, in Greater Cincinnati,” Dubis said. The number “changes, but it’s significant. Our program has been the center of our clinical excellence here at St. Elizabeth. We have really developed something that is great right now. We’re going to take it to an even higher level and make it world class.”

The Heart and Vascular Institute is expected to enhance the reputation of St. Elizabeth’s Edgewood location, which was recently ranked the No. 1 hospital in all of Kentucky and No. 4 in Greater Cincinnati by U.S. News & World Report.

The goal is to reduce deaths from heart disease and vascular disease in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent over the next 10 years, Dubis said.

Kentucky has one of the highest death rates in the nation linked to heart disease. It also has the highest smoking rate – 29 percent of adults, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s significant because the primary causes of heart disease are smoking, obesity, genetic factors, diabetes and high levels of cholesterol in the blood, Suresh said.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, cost Americans nearly $313 billion a year. That includes the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity, the CDC reports.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States for both men and women, accounting for one out of every four deaths. It is also a major cause of disability.


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