The University of Tennessee Medical Center has opened the region’s Dedicated Heart Hospital. Community and hospital leaders were joined by University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team head coach Pat Summitt for a ceremony and open house April 22 to announce the Heart Hospital, a one-of-a-kind facility in the region with physicians, staff and services solely dedicated for the care of cardiovascular disease. That dedicated approach to treatment, hospital officials say, is expected to result in further improved quality of care for patients with cardiovascular disease.
“The region’s dedicated Heart Hospital at The University of Tennessee Medical Center will be of tremendous benefit in helping those who suffer from cardiovascular disease in our community,” said Joseph R. Landsman, Jr., president and CEO of The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “A report by a task force of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association found that dedicated heart hospitals following the appropriate clinical guidelines saw improved clinical care processes in 90 percent of their heart surgery cases. The opportunity to even further improve the care we provide to our patients is absolutely our objective.”
The $26 million, 4-story, 126,000 square-foot building adjoins the front of The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s main Knoxville campus. The dedicated heart hospital concept, according to Landsman, is to bring the best possible care and patient outcomes by maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of heart, lung and vascular services at the medical center. The Heart Hospital will expand the inpatient services of The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Heart Lung Vascular Institute.
“Our research shows that patients with cardiovascular disease have better outcomes when cared for by multidisciplinary health care teams in a dedicated heart hospital using evidence-based clinical pathways,” said Dr. John Mack, medical director of the Heart Lung Vascular Institute at The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “As Tennessee is among the worst states in the nation for smoking, obesity and high blood pressure, all of which contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, the heart hospital will include information and support areas, a new state-of-the-art, technologically advanced intensive care unit with large family oriented rooms, high nurse to patient ratio step-down rooms and a location adjacent to the existing and future catheterization and operating suites.”
The coordination of care at a dedicated heart hospital, according to Landsman and Dr. Mack, includes a close proximity and ease of access for physicians and staff between the medical center’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, cardiac catheterization center, operating rooms, emergency department and UT LIFESTAR. Crucial to the success of this concept, according to medical center physicians, is having doctors, nurses and other medical staff dedicated to working exclusively with cardiovascular disease patients utilizing the multidisciplinary approach for care and treatment that began with the formation of the Heart Lung Vascular Institute in 2001.
The main floor of the Heart Hospital serves as the new front entrance to The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Visitors walk in to a four-story open air lobby and atrium area including a 40-foot feature wall with custom lighting, creating the effect of a moving waterfall as well as an elegant 25-foot custom designed chandelier created specifically for the Heart Hospital. The chandelier was designed by Teresa Kidwell, a third year design student with UT College of Architecture and Design. Kidwell’s plans were selected from a multitude of entries from interior design students. This front area leads to a main information desk, access to health information and a dramatic 30-foot wall recognizing donors to The University of Tennessee Medical Center.
The second floor of the Heart Hospital houses a vastly expanded, state-of-the-art cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU). The 24-bed private-room unit adds six beds to the medical center’s current CVICU. Each room is large, easily accommodating families, thus enabling loved ones to take an active role in the positive healing environment. Each room, according to medical center officials, offers visitors and patients attractive design elements throughout the room and private restroom facilities, a flat panel television set and a sleeper sofa for a family member. The second floor lobby features the HeartSaver Wall, a three-dimensional artistic display with a striking flowing red-heart and glass tiled donor recognition plaques.
The second phase of Heart Hospital construction is set to begin in the coming weeks. The third and fourth floors of the Heart Hospital will be built out in custom fashion, in order to accommodate the most prevalent heart, lung and vascular needs of patients. The Heart Hospital also has been constructed with the potential to increase to an eight-story building as demand increases in the coming years.
The Heart Hospital marks the first new inpatient building constructed at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in more than a quarter of a century. The 12-story East Tower opened on the medical center’s campus in 1984.
“The Heart Hospital is a modernized facility equipped with the latest technological advances to help us deliver optimal care for our cardiovascular patients,” Landsman said. “The private rooms are visually appealing and comfortable for our patients and their visitors. The University of Tennessee Medical Center has a rich history of utilizing evidence-based practices to ensure that we’re delivering the highest quality of care available and the Heart Hospital represents a continuation of that commitment to our patients.”