Published on January 01, 2019

Silver Cross Receives State Approval for Open Heart Surgery Program

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board today granted unanimous approval to Silver Cross Hospital to establish an open heart surgery program on its New Lenox campus. The new program will be operational as early as spring 2019.

Silver Cross Hospital“This approval means Silver Cross will now be able to offer the full spectrum of heart care services that our community needs,” said Silver Cross President/CEO Ruth Colby. “It also means heart patients will no longer have to experience the stress and anxiety of having to leave their preferred hospital and travel for advanced heart care.”

The hospital will add two state-of-the-art operating rooms, a “hybrid room” equipped with advanced medical imaging devices to support minimally invasive surgery, and two recovery rooms. It will be housed in the hospital’s soon-to-be-expanded Procedural Care Unit (PCU) on the second floor. In addition, a 14-bed cardiac care unit will open on the first floor directly below the PCU to care for patients after heart surgery, and will be serviced with a dedicated elevator between the two units.

Silver Cross currently has the eighth largest cardiac catheterization program in the State of Illinois and leads the local market for outpatient cardiac procedures performed annually. In 2017 alone, Silver Cross performed more than 3,500 diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterizations, an 11 percent increase over the previous year. And between 2015 and 2016, diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterizations performed at Silver Cross Hospital increased by 13%.  

“Offering open heart surgery was the next logical step,” Colby added. “We are a hospital well-positioned to expand cardiac services, and we have a safety record that proves it: we’ve received an A rating from the Leapfrog patient safety watchdog group eight consecutive times, and we earned Five Stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a recognition that only 9% of hospitals in the United States received. In fact, Silver Cross is the only community hospital serving Will, Grundy and Kankakee counties to earn a Five-Star rating.”

Future Structural Heart Program

Today’s approval also paves the way for Silver Cross to develop a structural heart program, which uses minimally invasive catheter-based technology to treat life-threatening valve disorders and structural heart defects. Minimally invasive approaches translate to better outcomes for patients, including a lower risk of infection and complications, reduced trauma to the chest (since the chest doesn’t have to be opened), a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery.

“This project is about innovation,” Colby added. “It’s about the least invasive way to repair hearts. We are partnering with Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates, a group of highly skilled surgeons that are known for innovation, outstanding outcomes and very high patient satisfaction scores. Just like we have done with our other partnerships in oncology, pediatrics, neurosciences, and rehabilitation, we are bringing the best of the best to Silver Cross.”

“Patients deserve to have options when considering where to go for services, especially ones as serious as cardiac services,” adds Dr. Pat Pappas, cardiothoracic surgeon and President of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates, a group of surgeons that have pioneered minimally invasive heart valve surgery. “My partners are committed to working with Silver Cross Hospital to develop a structural heart program in New Lenox. Silver Cross has the facility, staff and quality to not only support a structural heart program, but to thrive.”

Addressing the Dire Need for Advanced Heart Care

According to the Will County Community Health Needs Assessment for 2017, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Will County and the second-highest cause for hospitalization. In addition, residents have one or more risk factors that lead to heart disease, including high blood pressure (50 percent), high cholesterol (37 percent), and obesity (24 percent). Fifteen percent of families in Will County report some type of heart condition that may require minimally invasive or open surgical intervention.

Currently, patients presenting with life-threatening heart emergencies such as aneurysms, aortic dissections, acute heart attack and cardiogenic shock require transfer or referral to other facilities for treatment, Dr. Pappas added.

“This delay and discontinuity in care increases the potential for adverse outcomes in these acutely ill patients, and is unsettling to the patient and their family,” he said. “Our group feels confident that with a partner like Silver Cross Hospital, we will be able to provide the high-level cardiovascular service and quality residents are seeking in their community, and to do so at the hospital most prefer.”

“As an interventional cardiologist who primarily works at Silver Cross, I see the need for this service on a daily basis,” added Dr. Abdul Sankari, Silver Cross Chief of Staff and Medical Director of the hospital’s cardiac catheterization program. “Telling a patient they need open heart surgery is difficult enough; but explaining to the patient and their family they have to seek these services at a hospital other that Silver Cross is even more difficult.”

Braidwood resident Dedria Galik knows that firsthand. Galik, who was told she needed open heart surgery last March, had to be transferred from Silver Cross, her hospital of choice and the hospital covered by her HMO, to a neighboring hospital. “This was stressful to have multiple physicians, surgeons, home health and rehab staff try to piece together my whole medical record and history to create the best plan of care for my recovery and cardiac rehabilitation,” she said. “Having open heart surgery at Silver Cross would have been less stressful, more cost effective and would have provided the best continuity of care.”

“Many of our patients choose Silver Cross because of their incontestable reputation and are greatly disappointed to find they can’t receive all of their care at the hospital of their choice,” added Dr. Joseph Stella, Chairman of the hospital’s Cardiology Committee and practicing interventional cardiologist. “My partners and I perform the most innovative and minimally invasive procedures available today with exceptional results…procedures that are shaping the way heart care is delivered…with lower risk to patients. Silver Cross patients deserve access to these procedures at a hospital that has continually progressed to provide the best possible care for their patients.”

Construction of the additional operating and recovery rooms will begin immediately, with the first open heart procedures performed next spring.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.