SMH Introduces Electrophysiology Specialty



Administrators and representatives from Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the cardiothoracic surgery division of Columbia University Medical School in New York held a press conference yesterday to look back on a fruitful three-years-long partnership and announce the next step in the collaboration, with the introduction of a new specialty in electrophysiology.

Through an outreach program known as HeartSource, Columbia University Medical School partners with community hospitals to maximize service and growth, and results in the last three years with SMH have been fruitful, according to the hospital, with record-setting outcomes despite a statistically older and sicker population. With success comes growth, and SMH has in the last couple of years seen new facilities such as a state-of-the-art ICU and expanded operating rooms.

“Opportunities were there,” said SMH Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery Dr. Jeffrey Sell, who came to the hospital amidst the partnership. The program “just needed a chance to take off,” Sell continued. “Columbia has provided us with continued opportunity to see what we can do better that has been the catalyst.” One change, notes Sell, has been to analyze hospital outcomes and numbers on a quarterly basis, as opposed to the standard yearly schedule, giving physicians and administrators a better look at performance in real-time, with a chance to adjust.

“It’s been a pleasure to watch this grow and I wish I could take the credit,” said Dr. Craig Smith, chair of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at Columbia University Medical Center, “but it’s in the DNA of the institution.” 

And now with this growth and success, SMH and Columbia look to expand the hospital’s specialties to include electrophysiology, the study of disturbances and irregularities in the rate or rhythm of the heart and the electrical systems of the heart. As much as 95 percent of procedures involve pacemakers and defibrillators, and many hospitals are moving in that direction, said David Patterson, executive director of cardiovascular services at SMH. Teaming up with Columbia will give the hospital the edge to move forward.

“We’re taking a great program and we’re going to make it better.” said Patterson, who expects to perhaps double the amount of electrophysiology work being done at SMH. “Everyone can benefit from taking it up a notch.”

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