“Now’s the time; we’re ready.”
That’s how Sandra Coletta, president and CEO of Kent Hospital, sums up the hospital’s application for Department of Health approval to perform emergency and elective coronary angioplasty procedures.
On Friday, the hospital notified the Department of Health that it would submit an application for a certificate of need to regain the approval it was granted in 2008. If approved, the hospital aims to have two labs operational by July 2015. This would double the space as planned in 2008 and is projected to handle 200 to 300 cases annually. The cost of the additional lab and preparing to perform coronary angioplasty – the cardiac lab is currently performing about 500 diagnostic procedures annually – is projected at $3 million. The capital improvements would be funded with bonds issued by Care New England.
During cardiac catherization, a probe is introduced into the circulatory system through a non-surgical procedure from the groin or wrist, which provides a view of the system and areas of blockage. Coronary angioplasty goes a step further in that once the blockage has been identified, a small mesh tube called a stent is introduced to keep the blood flowing.
“We expect to be busy very, very quickly,” said Chester Hedgepeth III, MD, Phd, executive chief of cardiology for Care New England Cardiovascular Care and Brigham and Women’s Cardiovascular Associates at Care New England.
Hedgepeth said Kent sees between seven and 10 patients monthly on an emergency basis that have to be transferred to one of the state’s three hospitals performing the procedure. Those patients could be treated sooner and would not need to leave the continuum of care provided by Kent, said Coletta.
As was reasoned with its initial application, the hospital is expected to argue the time lost by transferring a patient to Rhode Island Hospital, Miriam or Landmark extends the risk of loss of life or irreparable loss of heart muscle. Also, as Coletta and Hedgepeth pointed out on Friday, Kent would serve the southern sector of the state, not simply the population in the environs to the hospital.
Hedgepeth is not only looking to serve a geographic area but also a growing need. Anti-cholesterol drugs and other measures have served to avert heart attacks, but with an aging population, there is a corresponding increase in attacks, said Hedgepeth.
Earlier last week, Care New England announced the expansion of cardiovascular services not only at Kent but also at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket and Women & Infants’ in Providence through its affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Care New England and BWH entered into a clinical affiliation a year ago and are providing added services by board-certified cardiologists and a team of Care New England nurses and clinical staff. This would be another service in the lineup of services already being provided.
Six years ago, after extensive testimony during which those opposed to Kent’s application argued the state had sufficient facilities to perform coronary angioplasty, the Department of Health sided with Kent to provide procedures on an emergency basis. The hospital projected 60 procedures annually at that time with the thought of adding elective procedures once established.
At the time, Coletta said she wouldn’t rush going into the procedure until the hospital had the right team in place. Then in 2010 the plan was abandoned. Coletta said the procedure is no longer considered highly specialized and that Kent, the state’s second largest hospital that is handling 70,000 emergency department cases annually, should also offer the service. Now that BWH is part of the team, Kent is ready.