Southern Regional Medical Center is looking to complement its cardiac rehabilitation program and accredited chest pain center (the only one with angioplasty in the south metro area) by creating an open-heart surgery program. But community support is crucial in order for SRMC to gain approval.
An application was recently filed with the Department of Community Health (DCH) for an open-heart certificate of need, which would allow surgeons to perform open-heart procedures at SRMC.
“There are no open heart surgery programs located south of I-20. The closest providers are Emory Midtown, Grady, and Atlanta Medical Center, which are located approximately 15 miles away,” says SRMC Public Relations Liaison Kari Hilyer. “The segments along I-75 and the downtown connector to reach these facilities are some of the most heavily congested in the entire metro Atlanta region. As a result, transports to these facilities may take an hour or longer. We anticipate that having an open heart surgery program at SRMC will reduce travel times for the residents of Clayton, Henry, Fayette, Spalding, Pike, and Butts Counties by an average of 45 minutes, which is critical time when a patient is having a heart attack or other cardiac emergency.”
If approved, SRMC would be the only hospital performing open-heart surgery south of I-20. According to its website, almost 1,000 patients annually must travel from Clayton and Henry counties to Atlanta for cardiac interventions in the form of open-heart surgery. This figure doesn’t even include the rest of the Southern Crescent. So, not only will many lives be saved, but Clayton county will reap economic benefits from this union as well.
Most importantly, DCH’s decision is based heavily on community support. “One way in which DCH gauges support is through letters submitted by community members,” adds Hilyer. “Letters telling personal anecdotes of how local access to open-heart surgery would have benefited a community member are especially powerful.” Anyone can visit SRMC’s open-heart website to submit a letter of support to bring these services here.
SRMC anticipates receiving an answer from DCH by June 21, 2010. If approved, open-heart surgery services could be available to patients as soon as January 2012.