November 4, 2005

Heart Institute unites VUMC cardiac efforts

Featured Image

Bill Smith of Architectural Signing places a sign outside one of the stress testing rooms in the new Vanderbilt Heart Institute, located on the fifth floor of Medical Center East South Tower.
photo by Dana Johnson

Heart Institute unites VUMC cardiac efforts

Beginning Monday, the Vanderbilt Page-Campbell Heart Institute, the Department of Cardiac Surgery and the Vascular Center will unite in a comprehensive facility known as the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute.

The concept, a combination of inpatient and outpatient services, has been “under construction” for several years.

The three specialties will be housed on the fifth floor of Medical Center East, South Tower to create the long awaited vision of a 'virtual hospital' within a hospital.

“At most institutions there are traditional service line and departmental structures that tend to keep surgical specialties in one area and medical specialties in another,” said Douglas Vaughan, M.D., C. Sidney Burwell Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

“This facility embodies the implementation of a vision that sees these three specialties as dealing with the same disease and patient populations, albeit with different sets of diagnostic and management tools — but for the most part we are dealing with atherosclerotic cardiovascular problems.

“It's a remarkable facility because it allows the cardiovascular program to consolidate all of our diagnostic services as well as our clinical space and exam rooms.

“It incorporates cardiac surgery, vascular surgery and cardiology into one consolidated space and makes it possible for us to offer a comprehensive program for treatment for cardiovascular disease.”

The new multidisciplinary clinic will house the following services:

• Cardiology physician practices/offices

• Cardiovascular non-invasive outpatient diagnostic services including echo, stress testing and nuclear imaging

• Heart Station — mobile echo and EKG units

• Cardiac Surgery

• Vascular Surgery

This comprehensive center is the completion of the first phase of the heart hospital concept, which began with an inpatient unit on the fifth floor of Vanderbilt University Hospital that has a connecting walkway to the diagnostic services of the Heart Institute. It will serve both inpatient and outpatient needs.

The second phase calls for additional patient beds to be included in the future construction of a bed tower, scheduled for 2008. It will be built above the Adult Emergency Department.

“This is a more streamlined, efficient way to serve our patients,” said Marie Glaser, assistant administrator of the Cardiovascular Patient Care Center.

“We will greatly improve the team concept for our faculty and staff. It will be a fully integrated practice.”

The move allows for expansion within the Vascular Clinic, which will relocate from the second floor of The Vanderbilt Clinic to the Heart Institute.

“It will be a new space and hopefully a more convenient location for outpatient care,” said Thomas Naslund, M.D., associate professor of Surgery and director of the Division of Vascular Surgery. “We will also have a treatment room that will allow us to increase the number of minor procedures we do and allow us to do them in the clinic environment rather than in the OR”

Some of those procedures include varicose vein work as well as catheter placement for chemotherapy treatments.

The convenience that will be afforded to patients and their families is one of the most talked about features of the new space.

“One-stop shopping,” said John Byrne, M.D., William S. Stoney Professor and chairman of Cardiac Surgery. “Patients who have cardiac disease frequently have vascular disease. We are combining the care delivery systems for one disease process in one physical location of the hospital.”

Byrne said the new space is a step in the right direction, especially with a 30 percent increase in the cardiac surgery volume.

He said growth is related in part to the attention Vanderbilt's hybrid OR and interventional cardiology practice is garnering.

“Through this collaboration we're able to see the volume grow in both interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery. The combined physical location in the heart hospital is another example of how we are collaborating.

“We work together in the hybrid OR, the catheterization lab, the ICU and now in our outpatient facilities. Patients are getting the best possible care in the most efficient manner.”

It's an attribute Thomas DiSalvo, M.D., medical director of the Heart Institute, said rivals any similar service located in an academic center in the nation. It's also the kind of integrated practice that will propel Vanderbilt into an even more preeminent role as a national clinical center of excellence.

“It speaks to the collaborative multidisciplinary institute that will deliver care to our patients,” DiSalvo said. “The way that the space has been configured will forge a more collaborative working atmosphere and environment for physicians, nurses and other specialty areas. That spirit of collaborative practice is what we really want to be all about.”

Although the creation of the Heart Institute emphasizes the cohesiveness that such an integrated clinical setting offers, it also is an opportunity to highlight technological advancements.

The number of exam rooms will double to 40, which translates into greater opportunities to meet the demand for cardiovascular patients. To help keep track of patients, physicians and staff during clinic visits, the Heart Institute partnered with Southwestern Communications.

“The use of this advanced technology will help us not only see where everyone is, but also reduce bottlenecks,” said Jana Bazzoli, manager, Outpatient Cardiology and Noninvasive Diagnostics.

“We want to keep productivity high. In order to do this we will use a system that can monitor wait times, length of time in the exam rooms and how long patients are waiting for diagnostic testing.

“Once a patient checks in they will be given a badge to clip on as well as a beeper to notify them to proceed to the exam room.

“We want to be as effective and efficient as possible while ensuring a pleasant experience for our patients,” she said.

The move to the Heart Institute will begin today and continue through the weekend in order to prepare for its first patients on Monday.