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In Breakthrough For Regional Cardiovascular Collaboration, Second Open-Heart Program Approved For Grand Rapids

A collaboration to expand cardiovascular services in west Michigan has taken a big step forward with state regulators giving the go-ahead to launch a second open-heart surgery program for the Grand Rapids area  – the largest market in the state with a single open-heart program.

The services would be provided through the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan, a proposed collaboration of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Mercy Health Muskegon. This innovative network is being designed to leverage the expertise of Michigan Medicine’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center, one of the nation’s highest-rated centers for cardiology and heart surgery, and the No. 1-rated program in the state.

On March 25, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a certificate of need authorizing an open-heart surgery program for Metro Health – University of Michigan Health hospital campus in Wyoming. Later phases of the plan call for a dedicated facility.

Services such as coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac valve repair or replacement, and repair for birth defects of the heart would be provided through the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan.

The network is envisioned as the region’s leading program for open-heart, structural heart and advanced electrophysiology services. It builds on a strong history of each of the partners collaborating with Michigan Medicine in cardiovascular care.

The health systems have been working together for months on a plan to deepen clinical capabilities and broaden patient access and choice for high-quality cardiovascular care, said Peter Hahn, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States,” Hahn said. “We owe it to our community to provide choice and options for the most advanced care, with access to the finest medical minds, sophisticated treatments and groundbreaking clinical trials.”

“As one of the fastest-growing regions in Michigan, the Grand Rapids area has seen a growing need for advanced cardiovascular services,” said Matthew Biersack, MD, interim president and chief medical officer of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “Even smaller communities, such as Lansing and Kalamazoo, are served by multiple open-heart programs.

“The Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan will provide an alternative for cardiovascular care and meet our region’s need for quality, increased patient access and delivery of care in an effective and cost-efficient manner,” he said.

The network would become the latest innovative partnership to expand regional cooperation in advanced medical services. Last year, Metro Health, Mercy Health and Michigan Medicine formed the Cancer Network of West Michigan to provide cancer patients with broader regional access to advanced, state-of-the-art, comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and support.

At the same time, strong collaborations are already in place in cardiovascular care. The open-heart program at Mercy Health Muskegon is staffed by Michigan Medicine surgeons. And Michigan Medicine physicians already provide electrophysiology services at all three sites.

“Mercy Health’s partnership with Metro Health – University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine builds upon our unified strengths to provide the highest quality, innovative and comprehensive cardiovascular care throughout west Michigan,” said Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon.

By leveraging the combined expertise of the partners, the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan is designed to deliver personalized, patient-centered care while drawing on the expertise of Michigan Medicine.

“This network will provide west Michigan patients with a connection to the world-renowned cardiovascular expertise here at Frankel Cardiovascular Center, Michigan Medicine,” said Gorav Ailawadi, MD, MBA, chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Michigan Medicine.

“We will be able to offer west Michigan patients access to the most sophisticated, least-invasive treatments and world-class care close to home. This is a key step in Michigan Medicine’s mission to advance health care as a destination center for cardiovascular care,” Ailawadi said.

All hospital providers and staff will remain employed by their respective health systems, and no staff reductions will take place as a result of this agreement.

The network partners are working to finalize the agreement over the next several months.