Quality and Patient Volume Success Story: Five Year Anniversary of The Richard and Annette Bloch Heart Rhythm Center
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (May 11, 2010) – Members of The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board heard today how the Richard and Annette Bloch Heart Rhythm Center has become the region’s largest and most successful program of its kind in just five years.
Hospital leaders say this heart specialty (electrophysiology), which spans from implanting pacemakers and defibrillators to a variety of more complex techniques to treat and cure irregular heartbeats caused by a condition called atrial fibrillation, has been a key to the overall growth of the heart program at The University of Kansas Hospital.
Atrial fibrillation is when the heart’s upper chambers are electrically disorganized and do not beat effectively, leading to blood clots or stokes. The Bloch Heart Center not only treats the condition but has innovative ways of disabling problem heart tissue, often curing the problem.
The Bloch Center currently houses five board-certified electrophysiologists (heart rhythm specialists), more than any facility in the region, and performed 2283 procedures in Fiscal Year 2009. Patient volume this fiscal year is up 24 percent.
Hospital officials said a five year celebration will be held in June for the Bloch Center’s physicians, donors and patients. The event will include a celebratory website.
“The closest centers with similar volume and expertise are at the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic,” Tammy Peterman, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer, told the Authority Board. “The quality outcomes of this group have been part of the overall high rankings for the heart program in U.S. News and World Report.”
Peterman also reported the physician team has published 24 times in major academic journals on specific atrial fibrillation related topics over the last five years, as well as numerous abstracts at national and international meetings.
Loren Berenbom, MD, medical director of the Richard and Annette Bloch Heart Rhythm Center, said the Center’s rapid growth and success is due to teamwork among physicians, nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, highly skilled technicians and the hospital.
“We have the facility and technology at our disposal, thanks to the hospital and Annette Bloch,” Dr. Berenbom said. “That gives us the most comprehensive array of heart rhythm treatment options in the region. We have the flexibility to provide the approach that is right for each individual patient.”
“Most importantly, we have outstanding people,” Dr. Berenbom added. “Our physicians and staff have the expertise and experience to do not only the routine cases but also the most complex ones. While volume alone does not ensure excellence it is critically important that physicians and staff perform complex procedures regularly in order to function efficiently as a team and get the best outcomes.”
Dr. Berenbom notes that among the Center's unique surgical options is Stereotaxis® magnetic navigation. Stereotaxis® uses high powered magnets to safely guide a catheter to access difficult-to-reach areas of the heart where malfunctioning heart tissue is disabled. The machine can also be used to insert other medical devices such as a stent. According to Dr. Berenbom, heart procedures have greater precision and efficiency with this method and patients are exposed to less radiation.
The Center’s notable complex surgical procedures include:
Curative atrial fibrillation ablations. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart become electrically disorganized and send chaotic signals to the lower chambers resulting in decreased heart function. The ablation fixes the problem by disabling the problem heart tissue. The center performs more than 200 of these ablations annually.
Ventricular tachycardia ablation to treat rapid heart rhythms originating in the lower heart chambers which are often life-threatening. Other regional hospitals perform this procedure only a few times a year, while Bloch Heart Rhythm Center volume exceeds 100 cases annually.
Lead extraction on implantable pacemakers and defibrillators is not a common surgical procedure at other regional centers. The Bloch Heart Rhythm Center performs more than 150 such cases per year, including patients who have been turned down at other hospitals as too high-risk.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy for congestive heart failure helps both heart ventricles work together in rhythm, alleviating a number of heart failure symptoms. The Bloch Heart Rhythm Center performs this complex pacing/defibrillator based procedure more than 240 times per year.
The Center's electrophysiologists (Loren Berenbom, M.D., Martin Emert, M.D., Rhea Pimentel, M.D., D.J. Lakkireddy, M.D., and Raghuveer Dendi, M.D.) also work closely with the heart surgery team in surgical treatments for atrial fibrillation as well as other cases.
Dr. Lakkireddy leads the Center’s complex ablation program. He is also responsible for an innovative research study to examine the role of yoga in the long-term treatment of atrial fibrillation.
The University of Kansas Hospital is the region's premier academic medical center, providing a full range of care. The hospital is affiliated with the University of Kansas Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health, and their various leading edge research projects. The constantly growing facility contains 583 staffed beds and serves more than 24,000 inpatients annually. The University of Kansas Hospital comprehensive heart program is ranked 39th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and is housed in the state of the art Center for Advanced Heart Care. The cancer program is part of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, based in the region’s largest outpatient cancer facility, the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion, located in Westwood, Kansas, 1½ miles from the main hospital. The hospital also houses the region's only burn center, liver transplant program and the area's only nationally accredited Level I Trauma Center.