Cleveland Clinic partners with DuPage Hospital

By Bruce Japsen
Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:08 p.m.

Chicago may have lost out on the heart-stopping NBA  talent of Lebron James but may be getting the next best thing Cleveland can offer to repair damaged aortas and clogged cardiac arteries.

In a move likely to shake up the market for heart care in the Chicago area, the well-known Cleveland Clinic’s cardiac surgery program said  Thursday that it has signed an affiliation agreement with Central DuPage Hospital in the western Chicago suburbs.
The internationally known Cleveland Clinic  draws patients from more than 85 countries around the world for everything from open-heart surgery and valve replacement to heart transplants. Its deal with Central DuPage, in  Winfield, is designed to enhance the heart care provided at the 313-bed community hospital and potentially bring Cleveland Clinic patient referrals at a time heart surgeries are less needed than they were a decade ago.

Heart care is any hospital’s most lucrative service, and Cleveland Clinic sees a need to reach out nationwide for patients as changes in technology and increased use of medications such as cholesterol drugs reduces need for cardiac surgery. Open heart surgery volumes have been dropping nationally since 1998, according to American Heart Association statistics.

But Cleveland Clinic also wants to broaden its reach as a so-called center of excellence, a model encouraged in the new health care reform law that wants to see an emphasis on quality so medical care is conducted right the first time to prevent a costly hospital re-admission. The Cleveland Clinic was regularly cited by President Barack Obama and members of Congress as a model for quality and cost-effective medical care in the last year of the health care reform debate.

Its deal with Central DuPage will give west suburban doctors and patients access to Cleveland Clinic research and clinical trials and, potentially, patient referrals when the cases are complex. Cleveland Clinic performed more than 4,100 heart surgeries last year or triple the number of Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, which performs more heart surgeries than any other hospital in Illinois, state figures show.

A general rule  on health care quality is volume: the more procedures a facility does, the better they are at doing them, experts reason.

“This affiliation brings world-class heart surgery resources, research and practices to the patients of Central DuPage Hospital,” Central DuPage Chief Executive Luke McGuinness said.

But some Chicago area medical-care providers of heart care don’t think consumers need to fly to Cleveland to get cost-effective, quality cardiac care.

They say  top heart care programs have long existed at several area teaching and community hospitals such as University of Chicago Medical Center, Loyola University Medical Center and suburban hospitals including Edward Hospital in Naperville and facilities operated by Advocate Health Care.

At Northwestern Memorial, executives there say they have  established Cleveland Clinic-quality heart care service when they lured noted heart surgeon Dr. Patrick McCarthy to their hospital six years ago. That has helped Northwestern draw other doctors and nurses from Cleveland Clinic and more than tripled the academic medical center’s heart surgery volumes to a projected 900 this year from 250 the year before McCarthy arrived.

“We do the whole gamut here from left ventricular assist devices like (former Vice President) Dick Cheney just had to heart transplants,” McCarthy said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “Regional centers of excellence is kind of our buzz word now. You don’t need to get on a plane and fly across the country.”

For several months, Cleveland Clinic has been reaching out to Chicago area doctors and hospitals, encouraging them to refer serious heart cases, saying the clinic is just an hour flight away, according to letters and marketing brochures obtained by the Tribune. Cleveland Clinic told these Chicago doctors in a letter in late May that their cardiac teams performed more than 4,500 “missions” that flew patients to the heart-care facility from around the world.

“No patient is ever too far,” Dr. Delos “Toby” Cosgrove told the Chicago doctors in a May 28 letter. “We have retrieved patients from five continents, 16 countries and 36 states.”

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  1. Kristen July 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Very cool. But holy cow, learn how to use “its”!

  2. Edward Van July 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    The entire expieriece of being a patient at Cleveland Clinic is in all ways superior to any that a patient will have at any other hospital, so its more than just the excelence of the procedures performed.The before and after care in the quiet, attentive healing surroundings after the artistry of the medical prcedure performed is beyound compare.Worth the trip.

  3. little gal July 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Having received recent treatment (work-up and angiogram) from Northwestern Memorial, I cannot say enough good things about their Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. My cardiologist, David Mehlman,is one of the best physicians that I have ever experienced. He spent significant time assessing me and my records/radiographs and even talked with my PCP. He is also a kind man and had the courage to tell me exactly what I needed to hear. I also had the best nurse, Gail, when I was admitted for my angiogram. Thanks Northwestern!!