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Dignity Health St. Joseph’s and Cedars-Sinai Join Forces


Complex Heart Procedure to Be Offered at Phoenix Hospital. Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai today announced a relationship aimed at bringing a new level of expert care to severely-ill heart patients in Arizona.

Located in Los Angeles, the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is a trailblazer in cardiology and cardiac surgery and has the most robust adult heart transplant program in the nation.  St. Joseph's also has a rapidly expanding transplantation center, which includes lung, liver and kidney.  Under the arrangement, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute staff will act as mentors so the St. Joseph's transplant team in Phoenix can begin offering ventricular assist devices (VADs). The VAD procedure, which is an extremely complex heart procedure available at Cedars-Sinai, is often a precursor to heart transplantation. 

"With this relationship, our doctors, nurses and patients will benefit from the guidance of some of the world's top cardiac surgeons," said Patty White, President and CEO of St. Joseph's. "There are only a few hospitals in the nation that offer the VAD procedure and now we will be one of them.  Once again, St. Joseph's is proving to be a destination hospital for some of the most difficult cases in the country."

White said St. Joseph's cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are looking forward to learning from and working with their Cedars-Sinai peers, widely regarded as experts in transplant and mechanical circulatory support devices.

"Cedars-Sinai is the largest heart transplant program in the U.S. and we have recruited the experts and dedicated the institutional resources to provide our heart failure patients with the best options for treatment," said Francisco Arabia, MD, surgical director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "We are committed to helping save lives around the country. That is why we are encouraged to begin this relationship with St. Joseph's."

The VAD (ventricular assist device) is a high-tech mechanical heart-assist pump that can prolong the lives of some patients while they wait for a heart transplant. A VAD can also improve the quality of life for end-stage heart failure patients who don't qualify for transplant.  In some cases, the machine allows the heart to rest and recover so that the VAD can be removed and the patient no longer needs a transplant.

"The new arrangement between St. Joseph's and Cedars-Sinai will take our cardiac program to an optimal level," says Kevin Brady, MD, director of cardiovascular surgery at St. Joseph's. "Our team will be offering the most sophisticated options available in cardiac care."

Cedars-Sinai started its Mechanical Circulatory Support Program in the 1990s by implanting temporary VAD support devices. In early-1995, the first Cedars-Sinai patient received a VAD designed for longer-term use. To date, more than 350 Cedars-Sinai patients have received VADs or Total Artificial Hearts. The Cedars-Sinai Mechanical Circulatory Support Program earned its Joint Commission certification in 2007 and is a critical component of Cedars-Sinai's Heart Transplant Program. Since the first Cedars-Sinai heart transplant was performed in December 1988, more than 1,300 Cedars-Sinai patients have received heart transplants. During calendar year 2015, the most recent statistics available show that Cedars-Sinai surgeons completed 132 adult heart transplants - more than any other medical center.

St. Joseph's Norton Thoracic Institute is home to the busiest lung transplantation program in the U.S. and recently began offering liver and kidney transplant.