June 23, 2006

VUMC, Page-Campbell finalize ‘seamless’ merger

Featured Image

Thomas DiSalvo, M.D., left, and Rob Hood, M.D., at the newly remodeled Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute in Medical Center East South Tower.
Photo by Anne Rayner

VUMC, Page-Campbell finalize ‘seamless’ merger

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Page-Campbell Cardiology Group at Saint Thomas have enjoyed a longstanding, innovative partnership that began in 1999 with the creation of the Vanderbilt Page-Campbell Heart Institute.

Beginning July 1, the two cardiology practices will officially join forces to provide the most comprehensive services in the Midstate when the Page-Campbell practice, along with its staff, moves to the Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute.

Celebrated by both groups, the merger is expected to place Vanderbilt in the top echelon of providers for cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular services in the region.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Heart Institute to consummate a long-standing relationship with an outstanding group of practitioners who have already had an affiliation with Vanderbilt,” said Thomas DiSalvo, M.D., medical director of the Heart Institute. “This has been an evolving partnership for some time. This is really completing a maturing relationship by bringing everyone into one location.”

The physicians, formerly at Saint Thomas, will receive full faculty appointments, while the staff will be integrated into the Heart Institute to serve patients in a seamless fashion. Already, staff members have attended several mixers and begun transitioning into their new workplace.

“A lot of energy has gone into making this happen,” said Rob Hood, M.D. “Change can be challenging and even the most positive change can be stressful. There is definitely a shared sense of excitement for the future. We are all looking forward to the opportunity to work in an environment where we have a collegial relationship with co-workers and can provide the best care while having fun doing it.”

The innovative partnership, which began with the opening of the Vanderbilt Page-Campbell Heart Institute, created one of the state's largest regional cardiac care networks.

Now, the combination of a premier cardiology practice and the leading academic medical center will allow patients access to the most advanced therapies and a high-tech treatment and research facility.

“The investment in innovative new programs and technologies like the hybrid cath lab/OR, working with stem cells in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and the truly seminal work that Doug Vaughan and others are doing in vascular biology, will provide tremendously powerful clinical tools for the future,” said Hood, clinical assistant professor of Medicine.

Hood, managing partner for the Page-Campbell practice, gradually transitioned to the Vanderbilt campus soon after Harry Page, M.D., co-founder of the practice, began seeing patients at the Medical Center. Hood's primary practice is at Vanderbilt, but he maintains a monthly appointment schedule at Saint Thomas.

Over the last six years, a growing number of Page-Campbell physicians began seeing patients at Vanderbilt as well as sharing the weekend on-call service.

“With increasing levels of clinical opportunities, the physicians were introduced to Vanderbilt through this process,” said Hood. “When it finally came to a vote about making the transition, it was unanimous. Everyone felt it was the right thing to do.”

Page-Campbell, a longtime anchor of Saint Thomas' heart programs, began in 1970 with the collaboration of two cardiologists — Page and W. Barton Campbell, M.D. The pair, employed by Saint Thomas, formed a partnership and in 1974 created a professional corporation as a vehicle to hire other cardiologists. It wasn't until 10 years ago that the original name, Cardiologist Consultants, PC, was changed to Page-Campbell Cardiology Group.

The Vanderbilt and Page-Campbell merger has been embraced as a fundamentally important step forward by the highest levels of leadership.

“We all came to the realization that we had so much in common that it made sense for us to join forces in the new Vanderbilt Heart Institute to create the preeminent center in the Southeast,” said Vaughan, chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “Moving entirely to Vanderbilt speaks volumes to the fact that we have had a successful and constructive relationship and we can do even more as a unified team.”

Page-Campbell's move could bring up to 20,000 new patients to Vanderbilt's existing roster of about 28,000. Vanderbilt's Heart and Vascular Institute, which debuted last year, is a combination of inpatient and outpatient services that houses the Heart Institute, the Department of Cardiac Surgery and the Vascular Center. The long awaited vision of a “virtual hospital” within a hospital has been under construction for several years.

“We are confident that we can absorb the new providers and patients,” said DiSalvo. “We are looking forward to our new family of patients and hope to make their welcome here as warm and accommodating as possible in our new state-of-the-art facilities.

“Our physicians have been awaiting this for many years and see it as an enormous step forward in the coalescence of the heart institute and the growth of cardiovascular medicine and surgery at Vanderbilt.”

Under the new arrangement, Page-Campbell outreach clinics will be maintained in Tennessee, including Celina, Franklin, Livingston, Shelbyville, Sparta, and the Greenville, Ky. clinic.

In addition, a non-teaching service operated by attending Vanderbilt physicians, in concert with a team of cardiovascular nurse practitioners, will run parallel to the teaching service. With the anticipated increase in the clinical volume, Hood said, this effort will assist in maintaining the 80-hour workweek practice for residents. The non-teaching service will be named the Page-Campbell Service.

“Vanderbilt is a teaching hospital and a vast majority of our patients are admitted into the teaching service,” said Hood. “Once it was apparent that Page-Campbell was coming over and bringing a significant load of patients, we knew we needed to do something to accommodate the extra volume without overburdening our house staff.”

Several Page-Campbell partners have had a major presence on campus for many years and are familiar to the staff at Vanderbilt, including Hood, Keith Churchwell, M.D., Mark Glazer, M.D., Marshall Crenshaw, M.D., Thomas Richardson M.D., and Adam Prudoff, M.D. Page-Campbell physicians moving to the Vanderbilt campus include Andre Churchwell, M.D., and Walter Clair, M.D. Both Page and Campbell are already on campus full time. Other Page-Campbell partners that will join the Heart Institute with offsite practices in Franklin and Shelbyville include Christian Freisinger III, M.D., Clifford Garrard Jr., M.D., and Rand Fredrickson, M.D. Nurse practitioners that will help develop the expanded non-teaching service are Debbie Martin, Jason Jean and Margaret Morrison.

“Growing our cardiology services is an important priority,” said Norman Urmy, Vanderbilt's outgoing executive vice president of Clinical Affairs. “Page-Campbell's decision to join Vanderbilt moves us substantially toward that objective. The decision to join together will improve our standing in the region and beyond.”