Joint Commission Certifies Heart Pump Therapy at Loyola University Hospital

News Archive May 13, 2011

Joint Commission Certifies Heart Pump Therapy at Loyola University Hospital

Many heart patients will have pumps implanted and skip transplant waiting list
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Loyola University Hospital has been certified by the Joint Commission to begin implanting heart pumps known as left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) as permanent therapy for advanced heart failure. Since 1988, Loyola University Hospital has been implanting LVADs to keep patients alive while they waited for heart transplants. Now, in addition to performing such "bridge-to-transplant" procedures, the hospital will implant LVADs as "destination therapy" for patients who do not qualify for heart transplants. The Joint Commission conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Loyola's LVAD program, including a review of policies and procedures, physician and staff credentials, administrative infrastructure and quality and outcome data of LVAD recipients. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health-care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. Joint Commission certification will clear the way for Medicare coverage of destination LVAD therapy at Loyola University Hospital. "This is an important milestone in our comprehensive treatment of heart failure patients," said Katherine Lietz, MD, PhD, medical director of the hospital's Heart Failure Device Program. "For patients with end-stage heart failure who have no other options, destination LVAD therapy can increase survival and dramatically improve quality of life." Studies have found that the vast majority of LVAD patients experience nearly complete reversal of heart failure symptoms. Consequently, these patients breathe easier, feel more energy and less fatigue. Many are able to travel, resume leisure activities and return to work. An LVAD circulates blood when the heart is too weak to pump blood on its own. The device attaches to the heart and assists or takes over the pumping function of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart. Perhaps the best-known patient is former Vice President Dick Cheney. Each year in the United States between 100,000 and 300,000 patients with end-stage heart failure potentially could benefit from cardiac replacement therapy. But due to a severe shortage of donor organs, fewer than 2,000 heart transplants are performed. Destination LVAD therapy could be the best option for patients who are not eligible for heart transplants. "We need to increase public awareness about this life-saving treatment," Lietz said. Lietz recently was recruited to Loyola from Yale University School of Medicine, where she was medical director of the Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device Program. She is an internationally recognized expert on the selection of LVAD patients and patient outcome assessment. Lietz is a key member of a team of physicians who are writing clinical LVAD guidelines for the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation. She has written more than 60 papers, book chapters and review articles on heart replacement therapy, and has lectured extensively at national and international meetings of her professional peers. Lietz is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.
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