In the Heart of Lake Forest
“Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute enjoys a reputation amongst the premier cardiac institutions in America,” says Dr. Ian Cohen, Medical Director of Cardiology at NLFH. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Bluhm’s Cardiology and Heart Surgery program 16th in the nation in its 2011 “Best Hospital” report.
Bluhm helped define the concept of comprehensive patient-centered cardiac care. Prior to this, Lake Forest didn’t have that level of integrated service. The expansion of BCVI allows NLFH to offer many of those same services in a seamless delivery system for patients that arrive at Lake Forest. This applies to patients who are stable as well as to those with high-risk cardiac emergencies—an event that occurs several times a week.
NLFH is currently equipped to provide cardiac treatment for most cardiac emergencies. The hospital can also provide the stabilizing care needed prior to transferring patients to Northwestern Memorial Hospital downtown, if heart surgery is necessary. Over time, NLFH will be able to provide more and more of the critical care services and procedures needed right at the Lake Forest campus.
To lead the effort, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Edwin Wu, both from BCVI, have moved up to NLFH as the core cardiologists. They expect to bring on a third doctor in the near future and a fourth by next year.
“Think of BCVI as a large house with lots of different rooms occupied by cardiac subspecialists, all on-site and accessible to the patient and to one another,” explains Dr. Cohen. “Until now, NLFH had the individual rooms here on campus, but not contained under one roof. This new partnership allows the hospital to bring Bluhm’s approach to cardiac disease here by totally aligning and integrating patients with their physicians.”
The “rooms of the house” will be populated by renowned BCVI and Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, and interventional radiologists. All are Northwestern Memorial Hospital physicians and faculty members of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. A wide variety of state-of-the-art services will be available, including advanced heart failure services through Dr. Bill Cotts. The vascular surgery program with Dr. Mark Eskandari and Dr. William Pearce is expanding. Dr. Brad Knight and Dr. Michael Kim are providing electrophysiological (EP) services to diagnose and treat rhythm disorders. Dr. Patrick McCarthy and his cardiac surgery team will offer cardiac surgical consultations and pre-operative evaluations on-site.
An example of how this integrated approach is expanding the delivery of cardiac care at NLFH includes the recent opening of a second state-of-the-art catheterization suite that expands the procedural capabilities of the electrophysiology, vascular, and interventional programs. Dr. Cohen now offers cardiac angiograms performed through a patient’s wrist rather than through the patient’s groin—a more comfortable and less incapacitating procedure—not previously done on-site at NLFH.
“The goal is to have everything BCVI does duplicated here at NLFH,” explains Dr. Cohen. “We’ll bring all of the therapeutic options to the patient. They will move through the system in a very contiguous way. This integrated approach means that patients will not have to go to different doctors and specialists at different hospitals and different office locations.”
To support this seamless service, advanced electronic informatics are in place that allow the doctors and staff at Bluhm and NLFH to share information instantaneously through computer access to a patient’s medical record. Upgrades in the system will allow access to the images from all types of cardiac testing, whether it is performed at NLFH or downtown at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
This year, for the first time, all of the proceeds from the Women’s Board of NLFH’s annual fund-raising benefit will go toward supporting these cardiology initiatives. “A Night in the Forest” will be held on October 1 and feature musical entertainment by The Beach Boys. Forest & Bluff is a media sponsor for this event.
“It says a lot about the importance of this hospital right here in our community,” says Jennifer Bianchi, Women’s Board President. “The support of the Women’s Board has really lifted this program,” says Dr. Cohen. “We feel privileged to receive the proceeds of their fund-raising event. A hospital can only be successful if it is embraced by the community to meet its needs. I feel that we are in lockstep with the Women’s Board and the local community.”
“It is usually exceedingly difficult to bring the benefits of a large academic institution to a community hospital,” stresses Dr. Cohen. “A clinically integrated program such as this requires a lot of work. Following on from my previous analogy, the house often needs to be built from scratch. However, due to the integration of NLFH with Bluhm and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, we have the advantage of importing excellent tried-and-tested programs directly into a house that is already built and is rapidly growing.”
“This is only a glimpse of what’s to come,” says Debbie Saran, Past President of the Women’s Board. “Over the next five years, the community will see many changes at the hospital, including a revitalization of the campus.”
For more information, visit lfh.org. To purchase tickets to “A Night in the Forest,” call 847-535-6111.