WVU Heart Institute opens in new location

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The West Virginia University Heart Institute has expanded and consolidated its outpatient services at new space off campus to meet the growing demand for heart care. Patients can now receive care at the Heart Institute’s new location at Morgantown’s Suncrest Towne Center.

The new location, less than a mile from the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, opened Monday, Feb. 1.  WVU cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, physician assistants, nurses, technologists and others will see patients in a state-of-the-art, outpatient diagnostic center.

These specialists will address a multitude of cardiac concerns for their patients through diagnostic procedures such as vascular imaging, EKGs (electrocardiograms), chest X-rays and more.

From getting a stress test to getting an examination, it all will occur at this new location, said WVU Heart Institute Administrator Wayne Cochran.

“Instead of having to go to many different areas – the lab in one building, the doctor’s office in another – our one-stop shop will make outpatient cardiac care more convenient for the patient,” he said.

Located in the red brick building, near Damon’s Grill, the WVU Heart Institute occupies the second floor and some of the first floor – a total of approximately 16,000 square feet.  It includes a new larger area for cardiac rehabilitation, with showers and locker rooms.

Cochran said planning for the new $3-million facility – a joint effort between West Virginia University Hospitals and University Health Associates – began about two years ago with patient needs at the forefront of their concept and design.

“We wanted cardiac services to be more accessible to the patient – easier for them to navigate,” Cochran said. “This is the first time we’ve taken a specialty outside the hospital to this level of access for the patient.”

Moving the physicians and the diagnostic testing pieces under one roof, he said, is an approach to cardiac care he calls “high tech, high touch.”

For more than 30 years, the WVU heart team has performed open-heart surgery and has provided intervention, management and rehabilitation for cardiac patients with a full range of heart problems – from congenital heart issues to heart attacks.

With the new facility and its additional space and manpower, even more people can be served, said WVU Heart Institute Director Robert Beto, M.D.

“We draw patients from all over the state – south, north, from even Maryland and Pennsylvania,” Dr. Beto said. “We’ll be able to see more people.”

Beto said there’s a need for expanding outpatient services, because the success of new technology that fixes cardiac problems more rapidly creates shortened hospital stays.

“We see larger volumes of outpatients and have more non-invasive testing,” he said.

And, medically, Beto said, the patients will receive the finest services at the Institute. “We have the highest technology available in cardiac care.”

Heart surgery and catheterization procedures will still be performed at Ruby Memorial Hospital, but all pre-testing will be done at the new location first. Patients with heart attack symptoms should go to the emergency department at Ruby for care.

The Institute will have a 24-hour cardiac call center, Cochran said, with only one number for patients and referring physicians.

“This is major – we used to have 28 numbers,” he said. “You will have to only call one number that will triage the caller to the appropriate person or department.”

Another benefit surrounding the new facility is that medical students, residents and cardiology fellows will have exposure to greater numbers of cardiac patients, Cochran said.

The Institute has satellite and outreach locations in Elkins and Fairmont, he said, to better serve the cardiac populations there.

Cochran said they will add an additional 25 employees (nurses, medical assistants, technologists and financial counselors) to the current 12 to staff the new facility.


For more information:
Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
sb/asj: 02-01-10

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