Last updated: April 10. 2014 11:25AM - 2118 Views
Times Leader Staff

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WILKES-BARRE — Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for its ventricular assist device destination therapy program.

GWV is the only hospital in northeastern Pennsylvania with this certification and one of just 15 statewide. Once commonly referred to as the bridge to transplant, this new heart pump technology has evolved into what could be considered a second lease on life for end-stage heart failure patients. The battery-operated device inserted into a patient’s abdomen pulls blood from the left ventricle into a pump that distributes the blood to the rest of the body.

“Achieving The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for ventricular assist device therapy is no small task, and it could not have been possible without the support of our leaders at GWV and its talented medical staff,” said Sanjay Doddamani, M.D., director, advanced cardiac disease, Geisinger Health System. “Achieving this certification is the product of years of collaboration between nurses, doctors, surgeons and administrators who all operated with the goal of providing a never-before-available service to the residents of northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The left ventricular assist device (LVAD) program began at GWV in Dec. 2012. The first patient was implanted in January 2013. In recent years, this technology has been used more frequently for long-term therapy, increasing the number of benefiting patients tenfold.

In late February, GWV underwent a rigorous on-site review by an expert Joint Commission reviewer, who evaluated the GWV program for compliance within the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care Advanced Certification guidelines. Certified LVAD programs must display proper staffing and facilities to support LVAD surgery and its recovery, be active members of a national, audited list of LVAD centers and employ a certified cardiac surgeon. Deepak Singh, M.D., director, cardiothoracic surgery, GWV, has fulfilled these requirements, and now, with this certification, many more patients will be eligible for LVAD procedures performed locally at GWV.

In 2005, the American Heart Association found LVADs to reduce the risk of death in end-stage heart failure patients by 50 percent at both six and 12 months following surgery. It also found the average life span of those patients to be expanded significantly. In a more recent clinical trial consisting of patients ineligible for heart transplants, the one- and two-year survival rates were observed to be well above 50 percent, reinforcing the hope that many of these patients previously lacked and simultaneously significantly improving quality of life.

“LVAD therapy has evolved into an extremely viable option to improve the quality of life for patients who may not have had such an opportunity in the past,” said Dr. Singh. “Having this advanced, life-saving therapy available locally is an invaluable benefit to our neighbors right here in northeastern Pennsylvania.”

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