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Town hall meeting outlines Heart Institute’s busy year

Aug. 16, 2012, 10:13 AM

The Department of Cardiac Surgery experienced its highest case volume to date with 1,245 adult cardiac surgeries at Vanderbilt University Hospital during the last fiscal year, according to department chair John Byrne, M.D., who spoke at Vanderbilt Heart’s quarterly town hall on Friday.

“This past year was the busiest year for Cardiac Surgery in the history of Vanderbilt,” Byrne told his colleagues gathered in Light Hall.

“Every month for the last nine months, with the exception of one, was exceptional.”
VHVI experienced growth across the board with a 13 percent increase in the number of patients treated compared to last year.

There were 120,000 patient visits to both the main campus and satellite offices during the fiscal year compared to 9,800 when VHVI opened for business in 1998.

“We’ve had a very robust year,” said Keith Churchwell, M.D., VHVI executive director and chief medical officer. “We continue to be very full and very busy.”

Cardiac catheterization, electrophysiology and vascular surgery cases were all on target for the year. The ventricular assist device (VAD) program cared for 15 patients this year, compared with two in 2009.

“These are a very sick, very complex group of patients we take care of,” Churchwell said.

“You see these patients come into the hospital literally at death’s door, and a few months later you see them in clinic and don’t recognize them; they are healthy and thankful for their care here at Vanderbilt,” Churchwell said in reference to the VAD program.

Robin Steaban, R.N., chief administrative officer, addressed VHVI’s readmission rates and said a team has formed to explore ways to reduce them.

“If we’re doing the right things for patients, they shouldn’t come back. They should be able to go home and get well and stay there,” she said.

The meeting ended with a reminder about the American Heart Association Heart Walk, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, on Vanderbilt’s campus. To join a team, please visit

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