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Leading Heart Surgeons Collaborate to Launch New Era of Advanced Cardiovascular Care in West Michigan

A new era of advanced cardiovascular care has begun in West Michigan, as some of the nation’s top heart surgeons gathered to perform open-heart procedures in a new state-of-the art operating room at University of Michigan Health-West.

For the first time, patients in the Grand Rapids market have an option for open-heart surgery. This is a major advancement for the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan, a joint operating agreement that leverages the clinical expertise of three existing heart programs in the region – the open-heart surgery program at Trinity Health Muskegon, the cardiovascular programs at Trinity Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, and UM Health-West – and the nationally ranked expertise of UM’s Frankel Center in Ann Arbor.

The initial cardiac surgery operations are being performed by a team comprised of Dr. Gorav Ailawadi, Dr. Theodore Boeve, Dr. Jonathan Haft and Dr. Himanshu Patel, all part of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at University of Michigan Health. Patel also is executive director for the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan.

“Above all, we are extremely pleased with the opportunity to connect with more patients through the network, and to provide them with increased quality of life,” Patel said. “It could not be more gratifying to begin on such a positive note as we launch this era of collaboration, choice, access and excellence for the heart patients of West Michigan.”

Drs. Ailawadi, Haft, and Patel are primarily based at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center (FCVC) in Ann Arbor. Along with Stefanie Peters, chief administrative officer at the FCVC, they have been integral partners with UM Health-West and Trinity Health Michigan to develop this program.

The network was designed to give West Michigan patients close-to-home choice and access to top expertise. Wherever patients enter the network, they can expect seamless access to the best and most appropriate cardiovascular care, said Dr. Peter Hahn, CEO of UM Health-West.

“This is one network, one program, one team,” Hahn said. “We have reached a major milestone with the beginning of open-heart surgery in Grand Rapids, but this is just the beginning of what becomes possible through our ongoing and strengthening collaboration.”

Gary Allore, president of Trinity Health Muskegon Hospital, home of the Thill Heart and Vascular Center, applauded the dedication that led to this point, noting that more accomplishments are ahead.

“We envision a region-leading program to address cardiovascular disease, which is still the number one cause of death in Michigan. We are focused on improving access to world-class care that meets the needs of the people we serve in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and all of West Michigan.”

Dr. Boeve, a cardiothoracic surgeon with more than 30 years of experience providing heart care to the West Michigan community, will primarily be based at Trinity Health Muskegon. And in 2023, the cardiovascular team at UM Health-West will add the leadership of Dr. Alphonse DeLucia III, a cardiothoracic surgeon who has performed more than 5,000 cardiac surgery procedures in his career, including for many patients in West Michigan.

In keeping with the collaborative design of the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan, candidates for surgery are evaluated by the “heart team,” a group of experts from all four programs who confer to determine the best course of treatment in each case.

The Cardiovascular Network’s current expertise includes coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery, treatment of aortic aneurysm, and cardiac ablation procedures.