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Partnership with St. Luke's brings advanced heart care to Watertown

Monday, September 29, 2003

Watertown Memorial Hospital announced today that it would begin working with St. Luke’s Medical Center to enhance cardiac services in Watertown.

According to Watertown Memorial Hospital CEO, John Kosanovich, the enhanced services will begin in October 2003. “We make every effort to listen to the members of our community when making important health care decisions,” says Kosanovich. “That’s why, when local physicians and community members asked for more consistent access to quality heart care, we began searching for a partner who has proven themselves in the field. St. Luke’s has a nationally recognized team of experts that lead the way with the latest technology and innovation, delivering treatment options you can’t find anywhere else. Not only does St. Luke’s perform the highest number of heart procedures in the state, they rank fifth in the nation for total heart surgeries and angioplasties and seventh in the nation in bypass surgery volume. Our goal in seeking a partner was to work with a hospital that demonstrates the highest quality in heart surgery care. By working with St. Luke’s we are able to augment our program locally and increase the level of service.”

From fourth quarter 2001 through third quarter 2002, St Luke’s performed 10,894 cardiac cases. This is two and one half times the number of cases performed in any other Wisconsin hospital.

Why is volume important?

According to the New England Journal of Medicine (April 11, 2002), high volume hospitals offer the best outcomes for their patients. The study suggests the reasons for this relationship are that high-volume hospitals may have: more consistent processes for post-operative care, better-staffed intensive care units, greater resources for dealing with post-operative complications and more surgeons who specialize in specific procedures.

Another advocate for high volume heart hospitals is The Leapfrog Group - a coalition of more than 140 public and private organizations created to help save lives and reduce preventable medical mistakes as well as give consumers information to make more informed hospital choices. This voluntary program is committed to identifying hospitals with the highest safety standards and working to reward them with preferential use and other intensified market reinforcements.

The Leapfrog Group has set standards for volumes in heart surgery that may indicate safer, more consistent outcomes. St. Luke’s consistently exceeds the Leapfrog standards by as many as eight times the suggested volume. For example, Leapfrog suggests 450 bypass surgeries per year as the minimal standard. St Luke’s performs over 1,100 bypass surgeries per year. For angioplasties, the standard is set at 400, and St. Luke’s performed 3,224 last year.

St. Luke’s interventional cardiologist and president of Cardiovascular Associates, Dr. Matthew Mick states that the partnership between Watertown and St. Luke’s is beneficial to all parties involved. “Many patients in the Watertown area already prefer St. Luke’s for heart care. We are eager to work with Watertown Memorial Hospital because they already have so many of the necessary pieces for a strong heart program in place. They have an excellent panel of primary care physicians with state-of-the-art technology for helping make a rapid diagnosis. They have a certified cardiac rehab program and have started a heart failure clinic, all of which adds up to a solid foundation for a good cardiology program.”

Cardiologist Dr. Robert Panther, who practices with Dr. Mick, is one of the St. Luke’s-based cardiologists to be located in Watertown. A board certified cardiologist and Fellow in the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Panther will begin seeing patients in his Watertown Memorial Hospital office in October 2003. For more information call (920) 262-4445.

“This St. Luke’s partnership will allow us to have consistent cardiac care in Watertown from a nationally recognized organization,” states Dr. Fred Gremmels, a long-term member of the WMH medical staff and a committee member involved in the selection of a cardiology partner. “With the support of the St. Luke’s cardiology staff, we are able to deliver cutting edge heart services right here in Watertown. For our patients, it means having the benefits of St. Luke’s expertise in heart care without having to leave town. All the way around, it’s a cost-effective, winning solution for everyone concerned,” Gremmels concludes.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with the St. Luke’s Heart Care Center at Watertown Memorial Hospital, call (920) 262-4445.

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Contact: Jennifer Gross 414-385-2363

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