LEXINGTON, KY. (March 31, 2021) – UK HealthCare and Norton Heart & Vascular Institute are announcing a collaboration to expand advanced heart failure, ventricular assist device (VAD) placement and heart transplant services to Kentuckians.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky, and the Commonwealth has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the country. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute will join with UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute through UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Gill Affiliate Network to expand care to heart failure patients.
“By working with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, we hope to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease across the state by expanding access to advanced heart failure care and providing more Kentuckians the opportunity to receive complex, life-saving therapies,” said Susan Smyth, M.D., director, UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.
“By collaborating with our colleagues at UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, we are truly striving to improve the outcomes and convenience of our patients,” said Joseph A. Lash, M.D., chair, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute. “Patients in and around Louisville who need heart transplant care can continue to receive care close to home while awaiting that lifesaving procedure.”
The UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute works with 18 affiliate network hospitals across the commonwealth to enhance access to high-quality cardiovascular care and to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. The network also includes 10 outreach locations, including the UK HealthCare Transplant & Specialty Clinic located on the campus of Norton Audubon Hospital. This clinic allows cardiologists from UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare, who specialize in advanced heart failure and transplant care, to evaluate patients pre- and post-operatively for heart transplant and VAD care.
“The UK Gill Affiliate Network works closely with cardiologists across the state to improve the lives of patients with heart disease. We are excited to collaborate with Norton Healthcare, which has a long-standing history of excellence in cardiac care and proven expertise in managing heart failure,” said Navin Rajagopalan, M.D., heart failure cardiologist and associate director, UK Gill Affiliate Network.
For advanced heart failure patients, a heart transplant may be necessary when their heart is no longer able to function properly. When a patient’s heart failure is critical, some transplant candidates may need bridge therapy until transplantation surgery is possible. A ventricular assist device, known as a VAD, is a mechanical device that supports the heart in pumping blood through the body when the patient’s heart cannot perform properly. VAD therapy can extend survival time long enough until a suitable donor heart becomes available.
A VAD can also be used as destination therapy for long-term support when a heart failure patient is not a candidate for heart transplantation. Whether used as a bridge to heart transplant, or as a destination therapy, patients who receive VAD therapy experience better outcomes.
UK HealthCare will continue to provide its patients with both heart transplant and VAD services. Norton Healthcare patients will receive VAD implantation services at Norton Audubon Hospital, under the care of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. The VAD program at Norton Audubon Hospital recently received VAD accreditation from DNV GL – Healthcare and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“Our Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program team is caring for some of the sickest people in our community,” said Kelly McCants, M.D., medical director, Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute. “Heart failure is a disease that is often progressive and requires a high level of support from the patient’s family and our team. This collaboration allows our team to offer the community seamless access to a program with more than three decades of successful heart transplant experience but preserves the local network of support we provide that often has a big impact on long-term success.”
For patients who are candidates for heart transplantation, Norton Healthcare will collaborate with UK HealthCare, home to the state’s largest heart transplant center. Heart transplant surgery will be performed at UK HealthCare, with pre- and post-transplant care performed jointly by UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare physicians.