March 13, 2014

Hospital suspends bypass surgeries

Effective April 1

Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — London, Ky. — Saint Joseph London, part of KentuckyOne Health, has submitted the required 30-day notice to the state of Kentucky that it will voluntarily suspend performing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedures, commonly referred to as heart bypass surgery, effective April 1, 2014.

The change in services applies only to heart bypass procedures. Saint Joseph London will continue to provide advanced cardiac services, including performing cardiac catheterizations (elective and emergent interventions) and electrophysiology services.  In addition, SJL will continue to offer Thoracic and Vascular services.

Patients in need of elective heart bypass surgery will be referred to Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington, part of KentuckyOne Health, which has earned the highest rating available from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its outcomes in performing heart bypass surgery.  Together, Saint Joseph Hospital and Jewish Hospital in Louisville make KentuckyOne Health’s heart surgery program the largest in the state.

“Consistent with a national trend, the volume of heart bypass procedures performed at SJL is declining.  Therefore, it is an appropriate time to consolidate with our sister facility where a significant volume of these surgeries are still performed,” said Greg D. Gerard, president, Saint Joseph London. “Performing a higher number of heart bypass procedures enhances the ability of the surgical and cardiac nursing teams to maintain competencies, which can result in better patient outcomes. In fact, Saint Joseph Hospital performed nearly 800 heart surgeries last year.  Our patients can rest assured that they are receiving high quality heart surgery in a facility that has been performing this critical service with distinction for over 55 years.”

Anyone experiencing chest pains or thinks he/she may be having a heart attack is always urged to call 911 and go to the nearest emergency department.  Saint Joseph London is actively developing strict transfer protocols with local emergency transport services to assure timely transfer of any patient requiring emergent bypass surgery. SJL will seek to transport any emergent heart bypass patient to the nearest receiving hospital.  According to the most recent STS report less than 5 percent of heart bypasses are classified as emergent. 

The trend toward lower volumes of heart bypass surgeries is not unique to the London area. The U.S. and Kentucky have seen a significant decline in the number of heart bypass surgeries in recent years. National projections indicate a 15% decline over the next five years due in part to medical advances, including the introduction of drug-eluting stents as an effective alternative to surgery, in many cases.