McDowell may seek permit to perform angioplasty

May 03, 2004|HERB BROCK

For several years, cardiologists have been performing heart catheterizations at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center. But if the diagnostic procedure shows that some sort of surgery is required, patients have to be taken to hospitals in Lexington or elsewhere.

To some degree, that may change in the not-too-distant future.

McDowell Health, which manages the Danville hospital, is strongly considering applying to the state for a certificate of need to perform angioplasty, a limited-invasive operation that typically involves the placement of one or more stents to open clogged arteries.

The certificate of need, however, would not cover bypass surgery or other open-heart procedures.

The state Cabinet for Health Services soon will be accepting applications for two certificates of need for angioplasty surgery, said McDowell spokesperson Mary Begley in a recent interview .

"The two CONs will be for hospitals where open-heart surgeries are not performed but which do or could have the staff, expertise and facilities to handle angioplasty surgery," she said.


One hospital in eastern half and one in western half will get certificates

In addition, one of the certificates of need will go to a hospital in the eastern half of the state - and that would include McDowell - and the other to a hospital in the western part of the state, Begley said.

"We are anticipating that a total of up to 20 or so hospitals from around the state will be filing applications for the two CONs," she said.

McDowell expects the state to begin accepting applications in about two months, Begley said. Between now and then, McDowell will be studying requirements for the program and making a decision about whether to apply, she said.

"When the state publishes all the regulations and requirements, we will review them all and see if it would be feasible for us to make an application," she said.

"We not only will look at the requirements and see if we can meet them and can have the best staff, facilities and resources to be able to provide first-class angioplasty surgery and care, but we also will make the decision based on what the need is in this area of the state, and what's in the best interests of our community and multi-county service area."

After the applications are submitted, McDowell anticipates it will take the state a few months to review them.

"We estimate it would take us about a year to develop the program, and that would include getting budget, staff and facilities ready," Begley said.

It would be about two years before first angioplasty surgery is performed

All told, it would be about two years before the first angioplasty surgery could be performed at McDowell: The application process by hospitals and then the application review process by the state will take a total of about a year, and then it will take the two hospitals winning the certificates of need another year to get their angioplasty programs up and running.

If McDowell does not apply for a certificate of need for angioplasties this go-around, it may have to wait a while before getting another chance.

"If we don't apply during the upcoming cycle, the window of opportunity for us would quickly shut and stay closed for some time," Begley said. "If we don't do the application in this next cycle, we anticipate it will be at least two more years after this cycle until we would get another opportunity to apply for an angioplasty CON."

Dr. John S. Aumiller of Danville's Cardiovascular Consultants said he and the his two partners in the practice perform about 800 heart catheterizations a year at McDowell. He estimated some 150 patients a year are referred to Lexington hospitals for angioplasty surgery. Aumiller performs angioplasties as well as other cardiac surgical procedures at Lexington hospitals, mostly at Central Baptist.

Aumiller said he would support McDowell's application for an angioplasty certificate of need. He said there is a large population in the Danville area of "younger heart patients" - people under 65 - with coronary disease, many of whom with conditions that could be helped by angioplasties as opposed to open-heart procedures.

"A major issue would be to ensure that (McDowell) would have the nurses and other staff and the facilities in place, 24-7, to handle an angioplasty program," he said. "It think we could."

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