How to understand the importance of cardiovascular care Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2010

The Heart Institute of Florida at North Shore Medical Center FMC Campus has cared for patients with cardiovascular disease since performing the first open heart surgery in Broward County in 1974.

Since this time, heart disease has become the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and is also a major cause of disability. Throughout the hospital’s history, the community surrounding FMC Campus has been and continues to be significantly affected by heart disease. Therefore, the hospital’s focus to build on its legacy of providing quality and cutting-edge heart care has remained consistent over the years.

“As medicine advances, we need to advance with it,” says Ben Rodriguez, Chief Administrative Officer of North Shore Medical Center FMC Campus. “FMC Campus is committed to our local community by expanding our cardiac service lines to better diagnose and treat cardiac conditions.”

Smart Business spoke with Rodriguez about the importance of cardiovascular care.

How did FMC Campus earn its reputation as being a leading hospital for cardiovascular care in Broward County?

FMC Campus established the Heart Institute of Florida, which is renowned for its commitment and success in implementing a high standard of cardiac care that effectively improves treatment of patients hospitalized with heart disease. The hospital has also been able to retain and continue to recruit talented and experienced cardiologists, vascular and thoracic surgeons and other specialists that employ some of the latest technology to perform a broad range of cardiac procedures.

For example, FMC Campus was one of the first two hospitals in Florida to offer cutting-edge 80-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) technology. This advanced system measures electrical impulses throughout the entire heart, as opposed to a traditional 12-lead ECG, which only scans the frontal portion. This offers a quicker, less invasive solution for difficult-to-diagnose heart attack patients than do the echocardiogram and blood tests used by many hospitals. Most importantly, the use of this advanced technology reduces the patient’s future risk of congestive heart failure.

The medical staff closely follows the American Heart Association’s recommended treatment guidelines to help reduce the likelihood of future heart attacks in cardiac patients by implementing life-prolonging treatments. For instance, patients may be started on aggressive risk reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers in the hospital and receive smoking cessation/weight management counseling as well as referrals for cardiac rehabilitation before they are discharged.

How will FMC Campus continue to focus on cardiovascular care while still expanding other specialty areas of service?

For over 30 years, FMC Campus has maintained its commitment to providing the local community with superior cardiovascular care, and the community knows they can always count on the hospital for this. Cardiovascular care will always remain FMC Campus’s primary area of service; however, the hospital will also continue to expand other services to meet additional community health needs.

For example, FMC Campus recently opened a Fall Prevention and Balance Clinic. Many patients that receive cardiovascular treatment also are at a high risk for falls. In fact, 30 percent of Americans over the age 65 will experience at least one fall and 15 percent will have multiple falls. Falls can lead to serious injuries such as hip fractures and other complications; FMC campus wants to prevent this. The new Clinic offers multidisciplinary treatment to identify causes of dizziness and balance deficits to help prevent falls and help patients by enhancing safe, independent living.

We have worked to develop and grow FMC Campus’s many other successful programs and services such as the Surgical Weight Loss Institute recognized by the American Society for Bariatric Services as a Bariatric Center of Excellence; neurology and neurosurgery; cancer care; orthopedics; urology; psychiatry; gynecology; imaging; pain center; sleep lab; wound care; and 24-hour emergency services.

How have you been able to maintain and grow such high quality cardiovascular and stroke care service lines?

The FMC Campus Heart Institute of Florida uses many new paradigms in heart care to improve treatment time and avoid heart damage. As a result, the hospital has successfully established a high level of quality care through various accreditations and awards. First, FMC Campus is a Certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center and an Accredited Chest Pain Center with PCI. As an Accredited Chest Pain Center, FMC Campus ensures that patients who come through its doors complaining of chest pain or discomfort are given immediate protocol-based treatment to avoid as much heart damage as possible.

FMC Campus has also been featured in a special advertisement in the ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ issue of U.S. News & World Report to commemorate the hospital’s receipt of the 2010 American Heart Association ‘Get With The Guidelines’ Stroke GOLD PLUS Award, Coronary Artery Disease GOLD Award and Heart Failure SILVER Award. These awards demonstrate that FMC Campus consistently cares for cardiac and stroke patients and follows the most up-to-date clinical guidelines and recommendations.

Looking into the future, how do you see FMC Campus expanding its area of service in cardiovascular care?

As medicine advances, we need to advance with it. FMC is committed to expanding its cardiac service lines to better diagnose and treat cardiac conditions. The hospital is never static; it is moving forward — looking at community needs and preparing to adopt more advanced technology and some of the latest evidence-based clinical guidelines in cardiovascular diagnostics and care.

Ben Rodriguez is the Chief Administrative Officer of North Shore Medical Center FMC Campus.