May 23, 2008

Meet takes measure of VHVI’s heartbeat

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Meet takes measure of VHVI’s heartbeat

Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute (VHVI) held its quarterly town hall meeting last week.

Senior leadership discussed growth, service and volume and recognized several employees and departments for outstanding customer service.

Doug Vaughan, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, kicked off the meeting by confirming news of his departure and the announcement of an interim director.

“It is with a lot of mixed emotions that I tell you I will be leaving to become the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Northwestern at the end of June,” he said. “I'll go there feeling like we've really accomplished a lot together. I've been incredibly privileged to work with all of you here. Vanderbilt has one of the great heart institutes in the country and the world, and I know it's only going to get better.”

Vaughan announced that Doug Sawyer, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, will serve as the interim director of Cardiovascular Medicine.

“They had to find someone named Doug to be the interim chief,” Vaughan joked. “He brings all the right values and talents to the position. The search is under way now to bring in a permanent replacement, and I know that's going to be successful in identifying someone great for Vanderbilt.”

Vaughan also announced the addition of Bobbye Wieman, the new manager of clinical research for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. He used the opportunity to discuss the importance of clinical research to the success of VHVI.

“Clinical research is a critical and pivotal part of this organization. If you want Vanderbilt Heart to be the greatest place on the planet, you have got to do clinical research; you've got to be visible in it; you've got to do it right and effectively,” Vaughan said.

“It should be a source of pride and excitement and opportunity for everyone in the organization. We all have to try to make it part of the culture.”

John Byrne, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery, said approximately 1,200 surgical procedures will be performed during this fiscal year.

“In five or six years we want to be doing 1,600 to 1,800 cases a year in four operating rooms. Then we'll be right up there with the national leaders in cardiac care such as the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Brigham & Women's and Mass General,” Byrne said.

VHVI clinic visits also increased to nearly 50,000 over the past year.

“When Dr. Churchwell and I started working here 10 years ago, we were at 9,000 visits a year,” Vaughan pointed out.

Visits to Vanderbilt Heart's 12 outreach clinics now stand at about 14,000 this year, and there are plans to add more clinics.

“We have doubled the number of non-Davidson County clinic visits in recent months,” said Jeff Samz, VHVI CEO, adding that Vanderbilt Heart's prevention program will move to One Hundred Oaks in late winter or early spring 2009.

Results from the Consumer Hospital Preference Survey were released, and based on phone interviews of 1,900 households, Vanderbilt's heart surgery program had a statistically significant increase from 15.7 percent in 2007 to 22.4 percent in 2008. In the category of heart attack, VHVI rose from 14.3 percent in 2007 to 19.1 percent in 2008.

“Overall, this is better than we hoped for,” said Michele Toungette, chief business development officer. “We are only beginning to see the effects of the advertising campaign, community outreach efforts and other strategies working.”

VHVI's “Where Heart is Headed” advertising campaign, launched in November, 2007, was given Best of Show designation by the Healthcare Marketing Report 25th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards. Individual components of the campaign received Gold Awards.

Goals for the American Heart Association 2008 Heart Walk, scheduled for Sept. 27, were unveiled. Vanderbilt Heart has set an aggressive goal of raising $70,000 toward the Medical Center's goal of $400,000.

“The science at Vanderbilt benefits tremendously from the work of the AHA. For every dollar that goes to the AHA, we benefit many times over in the funding they provide to our research,” Samz said.

The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Aug. 14.