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Center Earns VAD Recertification

Media Contact

Mary Beth Spence
Senior Manager, Media Relations

Emory Saint Joseph's Center for Advanced Heart Failure has earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval™ for its ventricular assist device (VAD) program. The VAD is an artificial heart pump that can be used as a bridge to transplant or as "destination therapy" for certain patients in which transplantation is not an option. The Certificate of Distinction recognizes Emory Saint Joseph's dedication to continuous compliance with The Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety in disease-specific care.

This is the third consecutive recertification the Center has received from The Joint Commission since the implantation of the first VAD in 2009. Currently, the Center for Advanced Heart Failure has implanted more than 100 devices.

In order to achieve the Certificate of Distinction, representatives from The Joint Commission conducted a rigorous site visit. During this visit, representatives reviewed all aspects of the Center's program, focusing on patient education, as well as inpatient and outpatient care. A successful educational program for patients offered through the Center is Heart Failure University, a six week course taught by team experts that focus on understanding and coping with heart failure, nutrition, exercise and medications. "This program has not only improved patient education, but data indicates that patients who complete this class have a lower incidence of readmission to the hospital," said Alisa Frank, RN, BSN, Unit Director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center.

Additional criteria for achieving VAD recertification are staffing and facility to support ventricular assist device placements and participation in the Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (INTERMACS), a registry for patients who have received device therapy to treat advanced heart failure.

"With Joint Commission advanced certification, we are making a significant investment in quality on a day-to-day basis. The Joint Commission provides us a framework to take our organization to the next level and helps create a culture of excellence," says David Markham, MD, director of the Center for Advanced Heart Failure. "Achieving Joint Commission advanced certification in ventricular assist device destination therapy, for our organization, is a major step toward maintaining excellence and continually improving the care we provide."

The Center for Advanced Heart Failure is one of only 23 institutions nationally with an accredited Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology training program, including certified heart failure experts. In addition to Markham, Donald Jansen, MD, Board Certified Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiologist, has been an integral part of the program since its inception in July 1987. Jeffrey Miller, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and Surgical Director of the program, implanted the first Heartmate II LVAD in March 2009 and continues as the implanting surgeon at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital.

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