UK HealthCare’s Gill Heart & Vascular Institute expands heart failure, transplant services in collaboration with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky, and the commonwealth has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the country.

UK HealthCare (UKHC) and Norton Heart & Vascular Institute are announcing a collaboration to expand advanced heart failure, ventricular assist device (VAD) placement and heart transplant services to Kentuckians.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky, and the commonwealth has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the country. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute will join with UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute through UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Gill Affiliate Network. to expand care to heart failure patients.

“By working with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, we hope to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease across the state by expanding access to advanced heart failure care and providing more Kentuckians the opportunity to receive complex, lifesaving therapies,” said Susan Smyth, M.D., director, Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.

“By collaborating with our colleagues at UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, we are truly striving to improve the outcomes and convenience of our patients,” said Joseph A. Lash, M.D., chair, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute. “Patients in and around Louisville who need heart transplant care can continue to receive care close to home while awaiting that lifesaving procedure.”

The UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute works with 18 affiliate network hospitals across the commonwealth to enhance access to high-quality cardiovascular care and to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. The network also includes 10 outreach locations, including the UK HealthCare Transplant & Specialty Clinic located on the campus of Norton Audubon Hospital. This clinic allows cardiologists from UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare who specialize in advanced heart failure and transplant care to evaluate patients pre- and post-operatively for heart transplant and VAD care.

“The UK Gill Affiliate Network works closely with cardiologists across the state to improve the lives of patients with heart disease. We are excited to collaborate with Norton Healthcare, which has a long-standing history of excellence in cardiac care and proven expertise in managing heart failure,” said Navin Rajagopalan, M.D., heart failure cardiologist and associate director, UK Gill Affiliate Network.

“This collaboration allows our team to offer the community seamless access to a program with more than three decades of successful heart transplant experience, but preserves the local network of support we provide that often has a big impact on long-term success.”

— Kelly McCants, M.D., medical director, Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

For advanced heart failure patients, a heart transplant may be necessary when their heart is no longer able to function properly.

When a patient’s heart failure is critical, some transplant cadidates may need a bridge therapy until transplantation surgery is possible. A ventricular assist decive, knows as a VAD, is a mechanical device that supports the heart in pumping blood through the body when the patient’s heart cannot perform properly. VAD therapy can extend survival time long enough until a suitable donor heart becomes available.

A VAD can also be used as destination therapy for long-term support when a heart failure transplant is not a candidate for heart transplantation. Whether used as a bridge to heart transplant, or as a destination therapy, patients who receive VAD therapy experience better outcomes.

UK HealthCare will continue to provide it’s patients with both heart transplant and VAD services. Norton Healthcare patients will receive VAD implantation services at Norton Audubon Hospital, under the care of a multi-disciplinary team of specialists. The VAD program at Norton Audubon Hospital recently received VAD accreditation from DNV GL – Healthcare and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Our Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program team is caring for some of the sickest people in our community,” said Kelly McCants, M.D., medical director, Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute. “Heart failure is a disease that is often progressive and requires a high level of support from the patient’s family and our team. This collaboration allows our team to offer the community seamless access to a program with more than three decades of successful heart transplant experience, but preserves the local network of support we provide that often has a big impact on long-term success.”

For patients who are candidates for heart transplantation, Norton Healthcare will collaborate with UK HealthCare, home to the state’s largest heart transplant center. Heart transplant surgery will be performed at UK Healthcare, with pre- and post transplant care performed joinly by UK HealthCare and Norton Healthcare providers.

About University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for” three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes’ list of “America’s Best Employers.”  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

About Norton Heart & Vascular Institute

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, a part of Norton Healthcare, is the Louisville area’s leading cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment program. Each year, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute provides diagnostic, medical, interventional and surgical care for thousands of patients from Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute specialists treat patients at Norton Healthcare’s four adult-service hospitals and numerous diagnostic outpatient and specialty centers throughout Greater Louisville. Each facility is accredited through the American College of Cardiology’s Accreditation Services, which ensures the highest-quality standards for diagnostic services. All four of Norton Healthcare’s adult acute-care hospitals are accredited by the American College of Cardiology’s Accreditation Services as Chest Pain Centers, with the highest accreditation level possible for facilities able to treat heart attacks. Three of these facilities, Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital and Norton Hospital, serve as regional PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) receiving centers and participate in the state’s first regional STEMI program, providing 24/7 heart attack care for patients from throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute offers a nationally recognized advanced heart failure specialist with expertise in the management of end-stage heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation. Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Resource Center at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital is among the first in the nation offering diagnostic and educational services dedicated exclusively to heart disease in women.


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