December 13, 2013

CVPH plans to end cardiac surgeries

Would move program to Fletcher Allen Health Care if state approves

PLATTSBURGH — The days of cardiac surgeries offered at CVPH Medical Center could be numbered.

The hospital’s Board of Directors has approved a plan that, if also OK’d by the State Department of Health, would move CVPH’s cardiac-surgery program to Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care, which has served as CVPH’s mentor institution for those surgeries since 2011.

The Plattsburgh hospital would instead focus its cardiac efforts on intervention procedures, which include percutaneous coronary interventions, or angioplasties; stents; and cardiac electrophysiology procedures.


The change is inspired by a decrease in the number of heart surgeries taking place at CVPH, coupled with an increase in intervention procedures conducted there, according to Debra Donahue, senior vice president and chief operating officer of CVPH.

These fluctuations, she noted, are also occurring nationally.

“Research will tell you that they anticipate about a 3 percent decrease in surgical volumes (nationally),” Donahue said.

“We’ve also seen, at the same time, an increase in our interventional stents volume because they’ve been able to utilize stenting more than they had in the past, so people do the less invasive thing first.”

Historically, she noted, Fletcher Allen and CVPH competed for Northern New York’s cardiac population, with some sent to Burlington for the same intervention procedures offered in Plattsburgh.

However, Donahue said, “it doesn’t make sense to bypass a hospital that can do those procedures to go to Fletcher Allen.”


And, in 2012, when CVPH became part of Fletcher Allen Partners, which also includes Elizabethtown Community Hospital, Central Vermont Medical Center and Fletcher Allen Health Care, the facilities began working as an integrated system, rather than in competition.

In an effort to get the most value out of that system, Donahue noted, Fletcher Allen Partners contracted a study of its cardiovascular services, which suggested it is best and keeps cost down when patients can receive high-quality care close to home.

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