SMH and Columbia Medical Center partner to provide leading edge cardiac care
SARASOTA—When Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s David Patterson was at a conference in San Francisco last fall, he bumped into associates from New York’s Columbia University Medical Center and began chatting about heart programs taking place at both institutions. After a bit of note-comparing and brainstorming, they hammered out a potential agreement for both institutions to strengthen their top-ranked cardiac care programs via a strong strategic collaboration.
On March 29, the partnership was made official between the academic institution and community-based hospital.
“Columbia is a top five hospital in cardiac care, and was the first cardiac site for the new minimally invasive transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) technology for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis in selected patients,” said Patterson, RN, MBA, executive director of Heart and Vascular Services at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The recently FDA-approved TAVR device is designed to replace a high-risk patient’s
diseased aortic valve without the need for open-heart surgery or the use of a heart-lung machine. “They were the industry leader in TAVR procedures … the initial site for approval and clinical trials. To give you a comparison of their involvement, many of the first 50 hospitals approved to use TAVR technology are struggling to get the first one, two or three cases under the belt because of the patient selection and criteria required for the procedure. Columbia has done 420 percutaneous valve procedures.”
Sarasota Memorial, with 47 cardiologists and a cardiac support staff of approximately 400, has been consistently recognized among the nation’s best hospitals for cardiac care. Recently, HealthGrades once again ranked the regional referral center that sees nearly 1 million patients annually among America’s 50 Best Hospitals with 5-star ratings in heart care and more than 20 other specialties. Overall, Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has ranked among the top 1 percent of the nation’s 5,000-plus hospitals for consistent clinical excellence in HealthGrades’ annual studies since the award’s inception in 2007. To be recognized with this distinction, hospitals must achieve the lowest risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates in the nation for the most consecutive years.
Columbia University Medical Center has long been ranked among the best academic medical schools and cardiovascular teaching programs in the nation.
“We are proud to align ourselves with Sarasota Memorial, and share our academic strengths, training and research initiatives with an already top-notch cardiac team,” said Craig Smith, MD, chairman of Columbia’s Department of Surgery. “The collaboration will combine the strengths of both programs to ensure patients have access to state-of-the-art technology and research and receive outstanding cardiac care.”
Benefits of the collaboration include:
Around-the-clock access to Columbia’s cardiac surgery faculty and researchers for case consultation.
Accelerated access to new cardiac devices and therapies, including the latest minimally invasive and percutaneous treatment options.
Participation in research initiatives and clinical trials underway in the academic setting. Sarasota Memorial physicians also will have the opportunity to receive Columbia faculty appointments.
Greater visibility as the hospital recruits top-notch physicians and clinical leaders to the region.
Coordinated access to Columbia Medical Center in New York for patients who need procedures not routinely performed at Sarasota Memorial, such as pediatric heart surgery and heart transplants.
“To have them as partners and leading us and making sure we’re doing the right things is very important,” said Patterson. “It’s going to be very helpful for us to be partners with them in new clinical trials and educating us on the correct way to use TAVR technology. I’d rather be affiliated with someone who’s done 420 percutaneous valve procedures rather than five. It’s what you need to be to be successful early on, instead of learning by trial and error.”
The agreement also calls for Sarasota Memorial cardiologists to receive TAVR training at Columbia.
“They’ll help evaluate our patient population, to make sure we have a good selection on our case loads, and they’ll be our training site when we do go live, as far as our physicians practicing on a simulator prior to implanting them here,” explained Patterson. “As far as new technology coming down the pipeline, it’ll give us a distinct advantage to have Columbia as our partner.”
Later this year, Sarasota Memorial will open a new hybrid OR-cardiac catheterization lab, funded by the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation Inc. The high-tech procedure room will allow cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to perform complex procedures simultaneously, so heart patients who need more than one surgery won’t need to endure multiple procedures and recovery periods. Columbia had the first dual-trained surgeon in both cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology, and has an established hybrid surgery program and protocols with outstanding clinical outcomes and low co-morbidities.
Similarly, Sarasota Memorial is opening a new Valve Center in the coming months to offer the latest tests and treatments – including TAVR. The TAVR team will initially include five members – two interventional cardiologists, two cardiac surgeons, and a cardiac anesthesiologist – and for the implants, a 10-person team, including nurses and technicians.
“This relationship presents wonderful learning opportunities for everyone involved,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO Gwen MacKenzie. “With Columbia at our side, we’ve gained a study partner at the top of its class, with skills and experience that complement and augment our own – and most importantly, one that shares our commitment to bring the benefits of academic medicine to the people of our community.”
Soon, Sarasota Memorial will begin grand rounds as part of an academic center.
“We’re excited about the possibilities of partnering with an academic center in an area of such significance,” said Patterson. “It might lead to fellowships here, for example. Also, it’s a great opportunity for Columbia to have experience with a large community-based hospital. There’s much to be learned on both sides.”