“The strategy makes sense to us, and we will benefit because our patients will get better care if they’re successful in this integration strategy,” DiVello said.
In addition, he noted, it’s a much shorter trip for patients to transfer from Alice Hyde to CVPH than to Fletcher Allen, “so clearly that’s a benefit, as well.”
Of course, the consolidation would also require Plattsburgh-area patients who may have previously been able to receive cardiac surgery at CVPH to travel to Vermont.
These transfers could potentially result in additional travel and lodging expenses for families.
“There is some added expense, I guess, if you look at it that way,” Donahue said. “But more importantly, I think, is to be able to demonstrate to the community that this surgery needs to be done in a place where they’re doing it every day.”
Even now, CVPH sends patients in need of more complex heart surgeries to Fletcher Allen, so doing so, she noted, “is a well-greased, very seamless” process.
“As a regional community hospital, we cannot do all the things an academic medical center (can do),” Donahue said. “Our mission is different, so there is need for other patients to travel or to be transferred out to an academic medical center.
“We’re very fortunate that we have one within an hour’s distance.”
Dr. Joel Wolkowicz, director of cardiology at CVPH and president of the hospital’s medical staff, said that since CVPH’s surgical program, like others across the country, is getting smaller due to decreasing volumes, he too feels it best to consolidate.
“We don’t want to become a very small program that doesn’t do a very good job,” he said.
As of now, the cardiac-surgery program at CVPH continues; though, it is unclear for how long.