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With 100 life-saving surgeries in less than a year, Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan is surpassing all expectations

Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan operating room at UM Health-West.
Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan operating room at UM Health-West.

Ten months since launching the state’s newest open-heart surgery program, the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan completed its 100th surgery at University of Michigan Health-West, a pace that is nearly two and a half times its first-year goal of 50 operations.

In addition to giving West Michigan patients greater choice and access to top-rated care close to home, the program already is delivering on another of its objectives: reducing costs. The Grand Rapids market previously was the largest in the state with a single open-heart program.

UM Health-West CEO Dr. Peter Hahn said the milestone is a testament to the collaboration and meticulous preparation that led to the program launch last October.

“Before we saw a single patient, we built and equipped a state-of-the-art operating room. We assembled a team of leading heart surgeons and cardiovascular experts, and we designed protocols to ensure our first patient could have the same expectation of excellence as our 100th patient,” Hahn said. “We intend to continue building on that success.”

Dr. Alphonse DeLucia III, who leads the UM Health-West cardiac surgery team, said the program’s success shows the genius of the model established by the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan. The joint operating agreement leverages the expertise of Trinity Health Muskegon, Trinity Health Grand Rapids, UM Health-West, and more than 125 years of cardiovascular leadership from University of Michigan Health in Ann Arbor

“Patients no longer have to wonder if they are getting the best option for care,” DeLucia said. “Patients go through their own cardiologist. If advanced cardiovascular care becomes necessary, the Network provides the collective expertise from all four programs to evaluate each case and ensure the best possible treatment.”

Whether surgery takes place at Trinity Health Muskegon or at UM Health-West in Wyoming, the Network provides access to some of the most accomplished surgeons in the state. These surgeons have decades of experience and have performed thousands of operations. Their wide range of advanced capabilities include coronary artery bypass graft surgery, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery, treatment of aortic aneurysm, and cardiac ablation procedures.

Another aspect that sets the program apart, said Dr. Theodore Boeve, a cardiothoracic surgeon based at Trinity Health Muskegon, is that it draws on the renowned cardiovascular expertise of University of Michigan.

“Some of the greatest advances in cardiovascular medicine and surgery got their start in Ann Arbor, and Michigan Medicine continues to be a leader in improving outcomes for patients with heart disease,” Boeve said, noting patients benefit from the latest research and clinical trials. “This opens an entirely new scope of treatment options.”

UM Health-West Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Grifka said the early success confirms that cardiac surgery program and the Network are addressing a critical necessity for the fastest-growing region of the state.

“The fact that we expect to perform close to 125 surgeries in our first 12 months – and possibly 200 in our second year – shows West Michigan needed more options in the fight against heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death,” Grifka said. “We are making a direct impact on the quality of life for our patients across the region.”

Grifka added he expects the first-year data to also show significant cost reductions.

Dr. Himanshu Patel, Executive Director of the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan says the overwhelming success of the program has encouraged plans for further expansion and advancements.

“Expansion in the next decade is not a matter of if, but when,” Patel said. “We are confident of this, just as we fully expect to continue delivering more breakthroughs and sophisticated treatments for our patients.”