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Cardiac surgery a reality in Springfield.

Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center's first open-heart surgery took place this week, marking the start of a new era of competition for cardiac care in the Eugene-Springfield market.

Cardiologists and heart surgeons had picked a case they believed would be simple and straightforward for the Monday morning operation, but the surgery was unexpectedly complex and took nearly nine hours, hospital spokeswoman Rosie Pryor said Wednesday.

"It was a real trial by fire," she said.

The patient, a 71-year-old Springfield man, is in critical condition, but his condition is improving, Pryor said. The surgeons were Drs. Warren Glover and David Duke, whose practice is owned by PeaceHealth, parent corporation of rival Sacred Heart Medical Center. The anesthesiologist was Dr. Stephen Aufderheide.

McKenzie-Willamette officials had long wanted to get into the heart business, but it wasn't until they merged with Texas-based Triad Hospitals Inc. in 2003 that they had access to the cash necessary to start such a program.

In December 2004, McKenzie-Willamette opened a $2.2 million cardiac catheterization laboratory, the first step toward doing heart surgeries. Last year, the hospital built a $5.4 million, 11,700-square-foot cardiac surgery suite and recovery unit and had hoped to start doing surgeries last fall. But putting the program together and recruiting the professionals required to run the suite took longer than expected, Pryor said.

The Springfield hospital is still trying to straighten out a credentialing issue for a physician assistant who will be supporting the surgeons and patients, she said. Additional surgeries won't be scheduled "until we have the team fully credentialed and ready to go."

The next surgery is likely to be late this month, she said.

The hospital wants to do as many surgeries as it can, because research shows that the more surgeries a hospital does, the better the outcome for patients.

But McKenzie-Willamette will ramp up the program only as fast as the cardiologists and surgeons believe is appropriate, Pryor said.

The advent of heart surgery at McKenzie-Willamette means that, for the first time patients in this area will have a choice of hospitals, and there will be competition, for cardiac care.

Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene has been doing heart surgeries since 1971 and does about 700 such operations a year.
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Title Annotation:Health; Triad's McKenzie-Willamette hospital does its first open-heart operation
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 8, 2007
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