Carle named 100 top heart hospital for second time

By Christine Won

Carle Foundation Hospital was once again named one of the nation’s top 100 heart hospitals by Solucient, an Evanston, Ill., based company.

The award was given based on a study of key criteria in risk-adjusted death rates and infection rates in more than 1,000 hospitals that perform open-heart surgery in the United States.

It recognizes hospitals that demonstrate “superior clinical, operational, and financial performance in cardiovascular service,” according to the “100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success – 2005.”

Carle has won the award twice in the past three years and is one of eight Illinois hospitals in the 2005 top 100 hospitals listings.

Ranked under the category of “teaching hospitals without cardiovascular residencies,” Carle is the only other Illinois hospital south of I-80 to win this award, said Dr. James C. Leonard, president and chief executive officer of Carle Foundation Hospital.

“Being named a top 100 heart hospital is a national recognition that speaks loudly for the exceptional quality of heart care our physicians, nurses and technicians provide,” Leonard said. “This is a great honor not only for everyone at Carle Foundation Hospital, but also for our community which has been home to our locally owned and operated hospital for nearly 75 years.”

Heart diseases are the number one cause of death in this region of eastern Illinois, said Dr. Matthew Gibb, head of the division of cardiology.

More women die every year because of heart-related deaths, Gibb said. The emphasis is on identifying heart problems among women because they have different symptoms than men. Instead of chest pain, women with heart problems usually complain of fatigue and shortness of breath, he said.

“Carle has the only cardiovascular intensive unit in east central Illinois,” said Dr. L. Scott Cook, head of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

Cook has performed more than 10,000 vascular surgeries and more than 4,500 heart surgeries. One of his patients, Jim Turpin, a local radio personality, was present at the news conference on Nov. 4.

“I asked Dr. Cook, ‘Have you done this before?’ You hope the countless number of surgeries they performed make them good at it,” said Turpin to a chuckling audience. “Somewhere today there is a surgeon who is doing his first by-pass operation. I wouldn’t want to be his patient.”

When an echo-stress test showed two blockages that required a double by-pass, Turpin said his choice on where to get the surgery was never a question. He gave four reasons why he chose Carle: the latest technological advances it provides, experience and skill of the doctors, professionalism of rehabilitation and its convenient location.

“Anytime you’re going to have someone cut a big hole in your chest, you have misgivings,” said Turpin. “I was confident in Carle’s ability.”

Quality of patient care depends on having a well functioning hospital that provides the equipment and supplies necessary, said Napoleon Knight, vice president for Medical Affairs and Quality at Carle. It depends on providing that care in a consistent fashion to decrease variation and increase standardized exceptionality of quality, he said.

“Quality outcome depends on teamwork,” Knight said. “Like the Chicago White Sox, it depends on having a well-trained team of exceptional players.”

Turpin said he found that quality at Carle. He praised Carle’s rehabilitation program for helping him resume his lifestyle without fear.

For eight weeks, three times a week Turpin would lift free weights and run on a treadmill while doctors lectured him on nutrition. Even the location of the rehabilitation lab is convenient, he said. It’s right next to the cardiac section where all the doctors are, so that if anything happens, doctors will be available immediately.

Turpin said he was not surprised that Carle was honored on the exclusive list of top 100 heart hospitals.

Carle also provides four cardiac catheterization laboratories that enable clearer visualization of the heart, an electro physiology clinic to diagnose and treat irregular heartbeat, a heart laser system and the ventricular assistant device.

Carle Foundation Hospital is only as good as the people we employ, said Pamela Bigler, interim vice president of Patient Care Services. At Carle, there are hundreds of employees who contribute to this ongoing effort of providing the right care at the right time, every time, she said.

“When I read the report, this line stood out: ‘Top 100 Heart Hospitals are doing a markedly better job caring for cardiovascular patients.’ That is what our staff does every day,” Bigler said.