Health systems join forces to create advanced cardiovascular network

Dr. Himanshu Patel Courtesy Metro Health – University of Michigan Health

Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Mercy Health Muskegon finalized a joint operating agreement to form the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan.

The newly formed network will utilize the clinical expertise of University of Michigan Health’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Network partners have selected key leadership to advance their plans, which include expanding open-heart surgery availability in the Grand Rapids market, adding choice to the largest population center in the state currently with only a single open-heart program.

The network’s inaugural executive director will be Dr. Himanshu J. Patel, a U-M cardiac surgeon, Joe D. Morris collegiate professor of cardiac surgery and section head of adult cardiac surgery at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

The administrative director will be Kristine Todd, clinical service director for heart and vascular services at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. The network also announced the appointment of two associate medical directors: Dr. Matthew Sevensma of Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, and Dr. Eugene Chung of Michigan Medicine.

Patel said the network builds on a strong history of cardiovascular collaboration each of the partners has established with University of Michigan Health.

“This initiative is based on each partner’s overarching goal of providing not only the highest quality care, but also choice for the patients we serve in West Michigan,” Patel said. “To accomplish this goal, for the fastest-growing part of our state, we will also leverage the rich expertise already present at University of Michigan Health’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center.”

Dr. Peter Hahn, CEO of Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, said the network is envisioned as the region’s leading program for open-heart, structural heart and advanced electrophysiology services.

“This will show what is possible through innovative regional collaboration, working in tandem with one of the highest-ranked heart programs in the nation, University of Michigan Health,” Hahn said.

“Mercy Health’s comprehensive heart program provides patient-focused care and the highest quality outcomes,” said Dr. Matthew Biersack, M.D., interim president and chief medical officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “Patients will have a seamless experience, without regard to geography. At whatever site patients seek care, they will have access to the most appropriate and advanced expertise across the network.”

“We are proud to contribute to the regional approach of the network with high-quality, patient-focused heart and vascular services,” said Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon. “Our open-heart program in Muskegon has already seen a great partnership with Michigan Medicine, so we are happy to further this collaboration in the Grand Rapids community.”

The collaborative approach is similar to the tumor boards established by the Cancer Network of West Michigan, which the same partners formed last year to provide broader regional access to advanced diagnosis, treatment and support.

Work is under way at the Metro Health Hospital campus in Wyoming to accommodate the advanced services — such as coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac valve repair or replacement, and repair for birth defects — to be provided by the network. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year issued a certificate of need authorizing open-heart procedures at the Wyoming site. Later phases of the network’s plans call for a dedicated facility.

All hospital providers and staff will remain employed by their respective health systems, and no staff reductions will take place as a result of this agreement, according to the partners.

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